Nephew turns cop, hunts for uncle Hidma, Chhattisgarh’s most-wanted Maoist
Madkam Bheema surrendered in 2006 and is now with Chhattisgarh Police, taking part in their anti-Maoist operations to nab his uncle, Madvi Hidmaindia Updated: Jun 26, 2017 19:32 IST
They were born in the same family and grew up together in Chhattisgarh’s remote south Sukma district. Their childhood was spent traversing the thick forests of central India, learning the tactics of guerilla warfare from the commanders at the dreaded children’s wing of the Maoists, which they both joined at 12.
But two decades on, fate has pit them against each other.
On one side is 35-year-old Madvi Hidma, arguably India’s most-wanted Maoist commander who is accused of planning and executing a string of deadly attacks on security personnel in Chhattisgarh that have claimed more than 200 lives. On the other side is his nephew and childhood friend Madkam Bheema, who rose through the Maoist ranks but surrendered in 2006 and is now with the Chhattisgarh Police.
“We were born in the same village, Purvati. I was his only friend as he was my mother’s brother and we were the same age but now I am his biggest enemy,” says 34-year-old Bheema.
Bheema now spends his time hunting the jungles for landmines and scouring local villages on intelligence to track down Maoists, who have been fighting a decades-long insurgency against government forces to claim land rights for tribals. The place of his birth, Purvati, is one of several pockets known as “liberated zones” where the militants have set up parallel administration and there is scant government presence. His knowledge of forest trails and Maoist strategies is a great help to police, who often find themselves outfoxed by local militants’ guerilla tactics.
“If Hidma comes my way during an encounter, I won’t think of him as my friend,” says Bheema. “Amne -samne ke ladai mein goli chalegi aur jiskee kismet hogi bachega (In a face-to-face fight, bullets will fly and whoever has fate on his side will live).”
The duo became president and vice-president of the Bal Sangam (Maoist’s children wing) at 14. Later, Bheema became secretary of Guerilla Peoples Committee in CPI (Maoist) and Hidma went to join the military battalion of the party. Locals say the two were inseparable.
But the relationship soured in 2006 when Bheema surrendered. He says he was disillusioned after several men he had recruited for the extremist group were murdered on the suspicion that they were police informers. He joined the police in 2011 but is currently facing suspension for allegedly torching the huts of local residents in Talmetla during an anti-Maoist operation – an incident for which he is also facing a Central Bureau of Investigation probe.
“Bheema is a close relative of Hidma and both were childhood friends. Bheema’s cousin brother who was Naxal and is in jail also confirmed this relationship,” said a police officer posted in region. Another officer from the intelligence department, who refused to give his name because he’s not authorised to speak to media, confirmed the family connection.
Bheema’s family has faced a heavy price for his surrender. Months after he switched sides, his younger brother was hacked to death and his family shunned from public life. His mother told this correspondent that she didn’t want to speak about Hidma as he didn’t try to save his cousin.
Today, Hidma has a bounty of Rs 1 crore on his head, and his diminutive figure hides a battle-hardened commander. He operates across three districts of Chhattisgarh, has at least 100 fighters under him. But Bheema remembers him as a shy and introverted chid who was sharp and hardworking.
“Today he speaks less but is a big man now. He is dreaded and ruthless and it is not easy for anyone to kill him. I know him and I know that he is a big challenge for security forces,” says Bheema.
Bheema feels Hidma still carries a grudge against him. “People told me that he organised many meetings and termed me as traitor. My effigies were also burnt in some villages,” he added. “A journalist met Hidma and asked him about our childhood friendship. Hidma refused to talk and said he didn’t want to talk anything about me.”
First Published: Jun 26, 2017 13:37 IST