Hidma: Most-wanted, faceless Naxal commander behind Bijapur attack

Hidma is responsible for some of the biggest attacks against security forces in recent years

Security forces looking for one of the most wanted men in India are not even sure what he looks like. All that the forces know is that Hidma is responsible for some of the biggest attacks against them in recent years.

Hidma commands the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army’s Battalion 1 — the most heavily armed battalion of the Maoists — and is a member of the Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee (DKSZC), which leads the operations in Chhattisgarh. Battalion 1 operates in districts of South Bastar, Bijapur, Sukuma and Dantewada — all Maoist hotbeds.

From Dantewada, where 76 CRPF jawans were killed in 2010, to Sukma, where the state Congress leadership was wiped out in 2013, to the latest incident in Tarrem in Bijapur where 23 security personnel were ambushed by Maoists, Hidma — who carries a reward of 45 lakh on his head — is believed to have personally led the operations.

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Agencies know very little about Hidma’s personal life. He was born in Puverti Village, deep in the jungles, near the border of Bijapur and Sukma, and is between 35 and 45 years of age. (Some media reports say he is in his mid-50s.) In police documents, his first name is spelt ‘Mandavi’ or ‘Madvi’.

Surrendered Maoists say he commands respect and admiration from his cadres — partly because of his bravery and tactical and strategic nous, partly because he is one of them.(Most top Maoist leaders in Chattisgarh hail from Telangana while on-the-ground fighters tend to be locals.)

According to reports, there is talk of elevating Hidma to the Central Committee, or giving him complete charge of DKSZC. More than a year after the death of DKSZC top boss Ramanna, alias Ravula Srinivas, the post is still vacant. The Maoist leadership is yet to find his replacement and Hidma has evinced interest. In that sense, capturing or killing Hidma would deal a huge blow to the Maoist cadre in Chattisgarh.

Why It Is Difficult to Catch Hidma

There are two main reasons apart from lack of much personal information: He is protected by three rings of security, and always has advance knowledge of security operations; and he knows the terrain like the back of his hand, having spent all his life criss-crossing and traversing the region. A lack of phone network also makes it difficult to locate his whereabouts.

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