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In Pursuit of a Shadow: Who is Maoist Leader Madvi Hidma, the Suspect in Bijapur Ambush?

By: Raunak Shivhare

Last Updated: April 06, 2021, 13:48 IST

Bastar

Madvi Hidma, a notorious Maoist commander. (Photo by special arrangement)

Madvi Hidma, a notorious Maoist commander. (Photo by special arrangement)

Hidma is the suspected mastermind of the deadly attack by Naxals on security personnel in Chhattisgarh on April 3 and has been linked to several others.

Lurking in the jungles of Dandakaranya, to many locals he is like a shadow without a body. There are no recent photographs of Madvi Hidma, believed to be around 40 years old, a tribal from Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district, and the suspected mastermind of the April 3 Naxal ambush in the remote Tarrem area in which 22 security personnel were killed. Hidma is the area commander of the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army battalion no. 1 and an active member of the Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee of the CPI (Maoist), operating in Sukma, Dantewada and Bijapur. A few unconfirmed reports suggest he has been appointed the chief of the central military commission. He carries a bounty of about Rs 40 lakh.

Hidma is believed to have been born in Purvati village of south Sukma. He is also known as Hidmalu alias Santosh and is the face of the Maoist movement in Bastar. According to reports, after studying till class 10, he joined the Naxals, quickly becoming a master strategist of military operation and guerrilla warfare.

Villagers at the Sukma-Bijapur borders where Saturday’s encounter took place gave a detailed account of the horrors said Hidma was present there during and after the gunfight. There was no official confirmation though.

Over the past decade, Hidma’s name has been linked to a string of deadly Naxal attacks.

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On May 25, 2013, Naxalites attacked the Congress’s Parivartan Yatra in Sukma’s Jhiram Valley. In this attack, 29 people were killed including the-then state president of Congress Nand Kumar Patel, and senior party leaders Vidya Charan Shukla and Mahendra Karma.

On March 12, 2017, at least 12 CRPF jawans were killed in a Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh’s Bheji village.

A little over a month later, on April 25, 2017, as many as 32 CRPF personnel were killed in an encounter that took place between the Burkapal-Chintagufa area in Bastar.

Just a few days later, on May 6, 2017, Maoists ambushed and killed 14 soldiers in Kasalpad in Sukma district.

On April 9, 2019, four people, including BJP MLA Bhima Mandavi, were killed in an IED blast near Shyamagiri village in Kuakondablak in Dantewada district.

On April 3, 2021, a group of security personnel was ambushed by some 400 insurgents who surrounded the jawans from three sides in an area devoid of vegetation and rained on them machine-gun fire as well as IEDs for several hours. Officials said that an intelligence input had been received that Hidma was present at Tarrem. Immediately, forces from five different areas — Tarrem (760), Usur (200), Pamed (195) from Bijapur district, Nimpa (483) and Naraspuram (420) from Sukma — set out on the intervening night of April 2 and 3 and converged at Junagada where they were ambushed by Naxals. Several Maoists were also killed in the encounter, sources say.

The Maoist movement dates back to 1967 when armed peasants revolted in Naxalbari and later the “red" cadres of the CPI (Maoist) led the agitation claiming legitimate socio-economic rights for tribal and locals.

Security personnel have been fighting bloody battles with the guerrillas around the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh that comprises remote districts like Sukma, Bijapur, Kondagaon, Kanker, Narayanpur, Bijapur, Dantewada and Jagdalpur.

The worst Naxal attack till date is the 2010 strike on security forces where a total of 76 CRPF and state police personnel were killed at the Chintalnar area of Dantewada.

(With agency inputs)

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first published:April 06, 2021, 09:52 IST
last updated:April 06, 2021, 13:48 IST