A tense stand-off between activists of the Dalit Human Rights Movement (DHRM) and a group of local people owing allegiance to different mainstream political parties is threatening public peace in Madavoor panchayat in Nedumangad taluk.

K.E. Baiju, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Attingal, said the two groups had destroyed large swathes of rubber and banana plantations and attacked each other's houses in the past one week. The police had been deployed in strength in the hilly terrain to prevent further escalation of the violence.

He said there was an attempt on the part of the DHRM to break the police-imposed peace early on Saturday. The police arrested two members of an “armed group” of DHRM activists on the charge of attempting to attack the house of a political opponent at Myladumkunnu.

Mr. Baiju identified the suspects as B. Bose, 32, and D. Vijayan, 42. One of the suspects hailed from a DHRM stronghold at Varkala. They were produced before the court and remanded in judicial custody.

Madavoor panchayat president Rajendran Unnithan said the latest round of violence started last week when activists of the DHRM allegedly attacked a local resident who objected to them holding a meeting in front of the house of a recently bereaved family. He said the DHRM men attacked the family members, including two women. He accused the DHRM of destroying crops belonging to their opponents.

He said the “militant style” activities of the DHRM men had created a public scare.

DHRM district secretary Das K. Varkala said mainstream political parties connived with the police and the local authorities to portray the DHRM as a militant and socially disruptive organisation. He said members of mainstream political parties had joined hands to intimidate DHRM activists in the panchayat. The organisation's awareness campaigns against hooch, consumption of liquor, and peddling of drugs had earned it several powerful enemies.

The case registered against DHRM workers in connection with the incidents at Madavoor were all foisted ones, he alleged.