Bodies of 17 security personnel were recovered from the jungles of Bijapur in Chhattisgarh, raising the death toll to 22 in the worst ever Naxal attack in four years that resulted from an ambush by some 400 insurgents who surrounded the jawans from three sides in an area devoid of vegetation and rained on them machinegun fire as well as IEDs for several hours.
The intelligence input about the presence of the most wanted Maoist leader Madvi Hidma in the area seems to be a well-laid out trap. The Maoists, armed to teeth with light machine guns, were waiting in the foliage and caught the Special Forces off guard. The fierce gun battle that ensued continued for over three hours.
Who is Madvi Hidma alias Hidmannna?
Madvi Hidma, the man behind the massacre, is tribal and around 40 years old. He is known for his lethal ambushes and leads a pack of 180 to 250 Maoist fighters.
Hidma heads the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Battalion number one and is also the youngest member of the CPI (Maoists) supreme 21-membered ‘central committee.’ There is a reward of Rs 40 Lakh on his head.
A few unconfirmed reports suggest he has been appointed as chief of the central military commission. There are no recent pictures of Hidma available.
He is also suspected to be behind the March 11 attack in the Sukma district of Chattisgarh in which 25 CRPF personnel were killed and also the May 2013 Jeeram Valley ambush on the Congress convoy in which about 32 people including many state Congress leaders were killed.
How do Maoists operate?
Naxals launch their tactical counter-offensive campaign (TCOC) between January and June every year, where red ultras carry out the deadliest ambush targeting the security forces. They strategically choose this period as most trees shed their leaves allowing the ultras better visibility and movement.
Previous attacks by the Maoists
Last March, they had laid a similar ambush in Sukma’s Minapa, where they killed 17 personnel.
In April 2019, BJP MLA Bheema Madavi, his driver, and three personal security officers were killed in an attack in Dantewada.
In April 2010, 76 CRPF personnel were killed in a similar ambush in Sukma’s Tadmetla.
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