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Why ruthless Madvi Hidma’s promotion may change Maoist dynamics in Bastar

Officials believe Hidma’s promotion could be a strategic move by the Maoists to boost sagging morale of cadre in Chhattisgarh.

india Updated: Sep 09, 2017 18:58 IST
Ritesh Mishra
Ritesh Mishra
Hindustan Times, Raipur

Intelligence reports suggesting that top Maoist commander Madvi Hidma has been appointed a central committee member of the outlawed CPI(Maoist) is giving sleepless nights to the security apparatus engaged in fighting left wing rebels in their stronghold of Bastar.

While there is no official statement or rebel literature confirming Hidma’s promotion, officials believe this could be a strategic move by the Maoists to boost the sagging morale of their cadres in Chhattisgarh.

“The ramifications of his promotion are many. This could be a new era of Maoist leadership as this is the first time that a Bastariya will be given command of the region and other locals like Ramder might follow soon,” said an IPS officer familiar with the region and who did not want to be named.

Police officials say the move is “strategic” because the top leadership – almost entirely comprising of rebels from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana – has often been accused of ignoring local commanders of Bastar for senior positions in the Maoist movement.

Central committee (CC) members are mostly graduates, but Hidma is just Class 10 pass – a radical shift indicating that local leaders with good operational capabilities but doubtful ideological grounding can rise to the CC.

A senior officer said that though informers have confirmed Hidma’s promotion, things are still not clear. “We can confirm only when we see it in any Maoist literature.”

Sources claim the decision was taken during a meeting of senior Maoist leaders in the jungles of Bijapur. Hidma was said to be injured in recent operation with security forces and is recuperating in the jungles of Abujhmad.

Hidma belongs to the Muriya tribal community of Bastar region and was born in Purvati village of south Sukma. His village is still out of bounds for the police.

“Bastariya muriya tribals are brutal and aggressive and Hidma has already established himself as a master strategist and successful operational commander. His promotion will further motivate him and his team,” said another police officer.

There is also apprehension that after his promotion he could plot more deadly attacks. “Since he is head of the notorious Battalion 1, he might create another battalion with the help of weapons looted from the CRPF this year,” said the officer.

Sources claim a small platoon has been formed recently under the guidance of Hidma in south Sukma. “The looted weapons have been given this platoon and their training is going on,” said a source.

The 32-year-old battle-hardened Maoist commander has emerged as the mastermind of two major massacres in Chhattisgarh this year – 12 CRPF personnel in Bheji in March and 25 CRPF troopers in April in Burkapal, both attacks close to each other in South Sukma.

Though diminutive in physique, Hidma is said to be ruthless and runs a network of dedicated informers across the region.

Police officials scouring the site of the April attack for leads say evidence collected so far linked Hidma to almost all big attacks on security forces in Sukma since 2013. “He mostly coordinates with the local area commanders and sangham sadasyas (outfit members) and for many of them he is like god,” an official said.

The Maoists, who claim to be fighting for land rights of marginalised tribal communities, are active across 10 states and Chhattisgarh is seen as one of their last remaining bastions.

First Published: Sep 09, 2017 13:33 IST