New Delhi: Madvi Hidma (55), the Maoist commander who is believed to have led the ambush in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur Saturday, has allegedly been involved in 27 attacks since 2004, including the 2013 massacre that almost wiped out the state Congress leadership, and the 2010 Dantewada strike that killed 76 CRPF personnel.
According to sources in the Chhattisgarh Police, Hidma, the commander of the Maoists’ lethal Battalion 1, is known for his “meticulous planning of operations against security forces” and their “high success rate”.
Also known as Hidmalu, Hidma was born in Purvati village of south Sukma, and belongs to a local tribe in Bijapur. He is believed to have joined the Naxals in early 2001. He rose to prominence as a commander because he is “extremely disciplined, clever, sharp and brutal”, the sources said.
“Hidma is known for his operations against the security forces. Since 2004, he has been involved in over 27 attacks on personnel. This includes the 2013 Jhiram Ghati massacre of frontline Congress leaders, the Burkapal ambush of April 2017, in which 24 CRPF personnel were killed, and the Dantewada attack in which 76 CRPF personnel were killed,” said a source in the state police. “In the Dantewada attack, Hidma had led from the front.”
It is in the pursuit of specific inputs about Hidma’s presence in the Silger and Bodaguda area that around 2,000 security personnel — from the Special Task Force (STF), District Reserve Guard (DRG), District Force of Chhattisgarh Police, the CRPF and its elite CoBRA unit — launched a joint operation on 2 April.
While the security personnel were carrying out the last leg of an area domination exercise at the Tekulagudem hillock, they were ambushed by Maoists Saturday noon, sources said.
“He is ruthless when it comes to training, but is respected among his cadres because he leads from the front and that is what keeps them together. He has 150-odd commanders under him who are very well trained,” the source said.
Hidma carries a reward of Rs 25 lakh against his name, but security sources say they don’t have any recent photos of him. All they have are sketches drawn from the recollections of local residents and people who have worked with him, and estimates about his height and build.
‘5-km security ring, strong network’
According to the aforementioned source, Hidma was a close confidant of Ravula Srinivas alias Ramanna, who was accused of killing more than 150 security personnel between 1989 and 2015 in Bastar. He died of a cardiac arrest in 2019.
After Ramanna’s death, Hidma replaced him as in-charge of the CPI (Maoist) organisation’s militia actions, particularly the planning and execution of attacks against security forces, the source said. He also serves as chief of the Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee (DKSZC), the CPI (Maoist) wing engaged in making policies and planning the propagation of Maoist ideology, sources said.
What makes Hidma a difficult arrest, a second source said, is the 5-km security ring around him. His “strong network among local residents” also makes it challenging to trace him, the source added.
“He is a local resident and knows the jungle in and out. He has a multi-layer security ring with commandos who are all very well-trained and armed with modern weapons, grenades,” the source said. “Moreover, he has informants in all villages who pass on information about the movement of security forces to his associates. He usually does not come into the villages and maintains a safe distance.”
The second source added: “He also has a separate team for personal security, which is the innermost layer, apart from the commandos in his security ring.”
Hidma, the source added, is trained in jungle warfare and is known to be a “hard militia taskmaster”.
While the security forces have sketches of how Hidma may look like now, they do not have any recent photograph of him.
According to a dossier available with the CRPF, Hidma is 5 feet and 6 inches tall, and has a medium build. The photo available with the security forces is one from his younger days.
“We have one photo with him holding an AK-47 and one close shot that is not very clear. That is all. It is a photo from years ago, when he was young,” the source said. “We have got his sketches made after speaking to local residents, and even people who have worked with him closely, but we do not have any photo. That is because he never ventures out much and remains inside the jungle.”
(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)