Maoist Leader in India – Hidma aka Deva is the name that erupts whenever security forces are attacked. While locals hail him as a legend this never-seen-Maoist Leader is the most wanted Naxalite by the Indian security forces. Known as a guerrilla commander, this man has been in news for a while, but the police have found nothing about his life prior to becoming a Maoist leader.
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Deep in the jungles of Chhattisgarh, India, Hidma seems to be omnipresent. Present at every blood-curdling slaughter, yet never seen. Always a step ahead of trailing police forces. He carries the Maoist movement in Bastar on his shoulders. If there is anyone that defence troops desperately want, it is the man who calls himself Hidma.
According to the police, he also goes by the name of Deva. But forces have no idea who or what he was before he took up the gun to prosecute 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 are not much 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 strike 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 slaughter of May 2013 in which nearly the entire state Congress top rung was killed.
Each strike a step closer to Hidma
Elusive Naxal commander Hidma shot to fame with the Jhiram Valley massacre of 2013, in which the then state Congress president Nandkumar Patel, his son Dinesh, former opposition leader Mahendra Karma, former Union minister Vidya Charan Shukla and former legislator Udaya Mudaliyar, along with 22 others were killed in the ambush. Hidma is also assumed to have directed the Burkapal ambush of April 2017 that killed 24 CRPF jawans.
Police consider he is a local tribal who rose to supervise 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 encourage 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 military forces have made deep encroachments and are now gunning for the man who is a ghost too 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.