Hidma, the most wanted but least known Maoist leaderDeep in the jungles of Chhattisgarh, he is the ultimate shadow. Present at every blood-curdling massacre, yet never seen. Always a step ahead of pursuing police forces. In Bastar, he carries the Maoist movement on his shoulders. If there’s anyone security forces desperately want, it is the man who calls himself Hidma.
Police say he also goes by the alias Deva. But they have no idea who or what he was before he took up the gun to wage a war against the state. All that’s known is that Hidma is perhaps 51 years old, short but lean, and moves like he is all muscle. But they aren’t too sure what he looks like. They just have a bundle of photos of men who could be Hidma.
His name crops up every time there is a major attack on security forces. After surrendered Maoist leader Pahad Singh named him as a guerrilla commander “whose capture would smash the backbone of the rebel network in one of their last remaining strongholds”, Hidma is in the news again.
The most recurring name on police records in these parts, the shocking dossier on Hidma begins with the Jhiram Valley massacre of May 2013 in which nearly the entire state Congress top rung was eliminated.
Each strike a step closer to Hidma
Elusive Naxal commander Hidma shot to notoriety with the Jhiram Valley massacre of 2013, in which then state Congress president Nandkumar Patel, his son Dinesh, former leader of opposition Mahendra Karma, former Union minister Vidya Charan Shukla and former legislator Udaya Mudaliyar were among 27 people killed in the ambush. Hidma is also supposed to have masterminded the Burkapal ambush of April 2017 that killed 24 CRPF personnel.
Police believe he is a local tribal who rose to head People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army Battalion No. 1 and is also chief of the Maoists’ “south sub-zonal command”. Local cadres see him as a legend, and Hidma lives up to it by playing the hero to boost morale in the ranks, say police.
Hidma mostly keeps to the south Sukma region, which is his base, and always moves with a four-layer security cordon. This area is in the so-called “liberated zone” of Dandakaranya but security forces have made deep inroads and are now gunning for the man who is a ghost to many.
In recent operations, including Operation Prahar, security forces raided many of Hidma’s camps, but he always dodged them.
“It is difficult to penetrate his security because he’s placed in the centre, which helps him flee while his guards engage us with covering fire. However, every time we target them, it leads to encounters and the death of many of their close aides. This weakens their support system. It’s only a matter of time,” the officer said.