In this paper, we reflect on the caste-violence perpetrated on lower castes by Bhumihars, one of the dominant castes in Bihar, India, as it indicates their complex relationship with important socio-economic and political issues such as land relations, identity assertion and socio-economic differentiation, among others. We also pay attention to ideological and moral constructs embedded in the narratives about Bhumihars, which provides legitimacy to their violence. Several narratives and personal interviews have been incorporated in our analysis along with a broader mapping of Bhumihars’ historical engagement with violence as a form of caste assertion and its changing character in the contemporary era marked by ‘backward-caste’ mobilisation and the rise of Hindu right-wing politics in Bihar. Our critical study traces these historical trajectories and points to a decisive shift from Bhumihars’ engagement with direct violence towards a more subtle and symbolic form of violence, often masquerading as their articulation and expression of caste identity. © 2019, © 2019 European Sociological Association.