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Maoist Attack: Chhattisgarh Police Plan ‘Prahaar 3’ To Eliminate Mastermind Hidma

In retaliation to the gruesome attack on security forces on April 3, in which 22 personnel from Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Special Task Force (STF) of state police and District Reserve Guards were killed and more than 30 injured, the Chhattisgarh police have decided to launch ‘Prahaar 3’ — an anti-Maoist offensive – to eliminate the top Maoist leaders in the Left-wing extremism hotspot Bastar.

The anti-Naxal operations wing of Chhattisgarh Police has prepared a blueprint to eliminate Maoist commanders, including Madvi Hidma, the mastermind behind Saturday’s ambush, in the presence of Home Minister Amit Shah and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, according to official sources. A list of eight most wanted Maoists has been prepared by the police and security forces as part of the new operations strategy, they added.

“At a high-level meeting on Monday, a list ‘Most wanted Maoists’ has been prepared. It comprises names of eight commanders including Hidma,” an official who was part of the meeting told Odishabytes. “This guerrilla-style attack proves that it’s Hidma who planned and led this ambush,” the official added.

The Home Minister, who was in Jagdalpur, the district headquarters of Bastar, on Monday to pay tribute to the martyrs, said that the strongest action would be taken against the Maoists.

Home Minister Amit Shah and Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel paying tribute to martyred jawans at Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh.

According to sources, the eight Maoist commanders on the list are Mandvi Hidma (Battalion-1), Kamlesh alias Lachu (Battalion-1), Saket (Platoon-1), Lalu Dandami (Platoon-1), Mangesh Gond (Platoon-2), Ramji (Platoon-2), Sukhlal (Platoon-17) and Malesh (Platoon-16).

SATURDAY’S AMBUSH, A REPEAT OF MARCH 2020

The latest ambush bears a close resemblance to the Maoist attack nearly a year ago. On March 21, 2020, which was also a Saturday, a gun battle had taken place inside the forest near Chintagufa — between the hilly terrains of Kasalpad and Koraj Dongri in Sukma district – between security forces with a strength of 600 personnel and nearly 250 Maoists. In that incident, 17 jawans from STF and DRG were killed. Similar to the encounter on April 3 this year, this one was also a joint operation of CRPF’s elite wing CoBRA, STF and DRG.

According to sources on the ground, the gun battle on Saturday happened at Tekulugudam, 12 km from Tarrem camp in Bijapur district. “The Maoist cadre used sophisticated weapons including hand grenades and Under Barrel Grenade Launcher (UBGL) against the security forces. They surrounded the security forces from all sides and started random firing like it happened on March 21 last year in Sukma,” a source said.
Both the attacks were led by the dreaded commander of the People Liberation Guerrilla Army’s (PLGA) military Battalion One, Hidma, who operates out of Sukma and is an astute strategist.

Both the attacks were a part of the Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign (TCOC) of People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA), the objective of which is to cause maximum damage to security forces.

WHO IS HIDMA?

Various versions about Madvi Hidma alias Idmul Podium Bhima have gained currency in recent times, but the most widely known fact is that Hidma at present is the commander of ‘Battalion-1’ of the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) in the Dandakaranya region of Bastar in Chhattisgarh. He rose from the ranks within the armed cadre.

File photo of Madvi Hidma

Originally from Puvarti village (Jagargunda) in Sukma district, Hidma operates out of the south Sukma region. According to the locals, he never went to school, but can speak English and has knowledge of computer operations.

He has three brothers and a sister. The youngest brother teaches the ultras, while the others are small farmers. Sources said Hidma has two wives and both are a part of Maoist cadre.

According to police and security force sources, he had been actively involved in some of the worst Maoist attacks. These include the 2010 Chintalnar attack in which 76 CRPF men were killed; 2013 Jhirum Ghati massacre in which the entire top Chhattisgarh Congress leadership got wiped out; 2017 Burkapal ambush in which 23 CRPF jawans were martyred; and March 2020 Chintagufa (Sukma) ambush in which 17 jawans lost lives.

Hidma, considered an aggressive leader among the Maoist cadre, is a master strategist in guerrilla warfare. He knows the Bastar terrain like the back of his hand, said sources. The banned CPI (Maoist) has appointed him as the head of Dandakaranya Special Zone Committee (DKSZC) to spearhead attacks against security forces.

WHY IS HIDMA AN ENIGMA?

The police have no clue about Hidma’s physical appearance or age. The police, sources said, do not even have any photograph of Hidma, except for a two-decades-old black-and-white one. The shadowy Maoist commander, who has four-layered security, carries rewards of Rs 45 lakh on his head. The most common description of Hidma is that he carries an AK 47 and leads a strong group of about 250-300 Maoists.

Some say he’s a young guy in late 20s, while others claim him to be in his early 50s. “There are different versions about Hidma’s existence that have made this Maoist an enigma. Some say he was killed in an encounter after the Jhirum Ghati incident and his name is used as a post of a leader in the Maoist cadre. No one has seen him and even if he ever came to a village market, no one would recognise him,” a source from Sukma told Odishabytes.

However, according to a surrendered Maoist, who had worked for a certain period under Hidma and was interviewed by this correspondent, he is an unassuming personality in his early 50s.

“Hidma is a local tribal guy. He is involved in various cases of ambush and blasts. These Maoists leaders often are not known by their real names and have several aliases,” a senior official of Chhattisgarh police said.

CPI (MAOIST) HAILS ATTACK

Meanwhile, the Central Committee of the CPI (Maoist) has issued a statement, hailing its cadre for the attack and killing of security personnel, while simultaneously paying tribute to their slain comrades. This corroborates the claim made by the police regarding the killing of at least 12 Maoists in the encounter.

In the statement, the banned ultra-Left outfit has criticised Amit Shah’s statement of taking action against Maoists and said that they would continue with their ‘Struggle and action’ against the ‘repressive government’.

(The writer is Editor, Science India, and Delhi-based senior journalist, who specialises in Left-Wing Extremism)

Debobrat Ghose

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