UPDATED: April 5, 2021, 9:07 IST
Twenty-two jawans were killed and 31 sustained injuries in an encounter with Naxals in Chhattisgarh on Saturday. Security forces had launched an operation along the Sukma-Bijapur border, where an intense face-off resulted in the deaths of the jawans.
The intelligence report of wanted Maoist leader Hidma’s presence now appears to have been a trap in the jungles of Chhattisgarh. A massive group of armed Maoists was waiting in the same area where anti-insurgency operations were launched on the basis of intelligence inputs. The Naxals took security forces by surprise resulting in a pitched gun battle that continued for over three hours.
About Hidma alias Hidmannna
Hidma, who is suspected to be around 40 years old, is a tribal from Puvarti village of Sukma district. He joined hands with the rebels in the 90s.
He heads the People’s Liberation Guerrilla army’s (PLGa) battalion number 1 and known for his fierce and deadly ambushes. He leads around 180 to 250 Maoist fighters, including women. He is a member of the Maoists Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee (DKSZ).
He is also the youngest member of the CPI (Maoists) supreme 21-membered ‘central committee.’
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 carries a reward of Rs 40 lakh.
A charge sheet has been filed against him in the Bheem Mandavi Murder case by the NIA.
On Saturday, the Maoist PLGA Battalion was led by its commander Hidma. With a total strength of nearly 250, this group of Naxals was aided by insurgents associated with the Maoist platoons of Pamed, Konta, Jagargunda, and Basaguda area committees.
How do they operate?
Every year from January to June, Maoists launch their tactical counter-offensive campaign (TCOC), where red ultras carry out the deadliest ambush targetting the security forces.
This period is selected by them as most trees shed their leaves during this time of the year, allowing the ultras better visibility and movement.
Maoists have carried out many successful TCOC over the past several summers.
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.
What happened in Chattisgarh?
As many as 22 jawans were killed and 31 sustained injuries in an encounter with Naxals in Chhattisgarh on Saturday. Security forces have launched an operation along the Sukma-Bijapur border, where an intense face-off resulted in the deaths of the jawans. One soldier is still believed to be missing.
Sources told India Today TV that director-general, CRPF, Kuldiep Singh reached Chhattisgarh this morning to take stock of the situation. CRPF ADG (HQ) Zulfiqar Hassan and IG (Operations) Nalin Prabhat are also on the ground in Chhattisgarh.
Naxals seem to have decamped with the weapons, bullet-proof jackets, and even the shoes of dead soldiers, officials said.
On Sunday morning, tribute was paid to the CRPF jawans killed in the line of action at the force’s camp in Jagdalpur.Tribute is paid to fallen jawans at CRPF’s Jagdalpur camp on Sunday (Photo Credits: Dharmendar Sharma/India Today)
Chhattisgarh Director General of Police (DGP) DM Awasthi and CRPF DG Kuldiep Singh confirmed that the dead bodies of 22 jawans have been recovered.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah condoled the deaths of security personnel in Chhattisgarh. “We will continue our fight against these enemies of peace & progress,” Shah said referring to the Maoists who ambushed jawans in Tarrem.
Amit Shah also spoke to Chattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel in this regard on Sunday.
Speaking to the media in Guwahati, Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel said, “Seven injured security personnel who were shifted to Raipur are out of danger. 21 personnel are missing and rescue teams are searching for them.”
A total of 31 injured jawans were brought to a hospital in Bijapur. At least seven were later referred to a hospital in Raipur for treatment.