It has been close to three weeks since eight suspected SIMI members, who were lodged at Bhopal Central Jail, escaped from prison and were subsequently shot dead in an encounter.
The residents of Khejradev village, about 25 km from Bhopal, played a vital role in the encounter as they informed the police about the location of the fugitives. However, since the encounter, the villagers started fearing that they might be victims of a retaliatory attack — farmers would rarely go out into their fields, children were kept home from school, and residents stopped venturing out of their houses after dark.
However, after weeks of dealing with this stress, life in the village is slowly returning back to normal.
“The villagers were fearful after the encounter, but now they are not afraid. They have gone back to doing routine tasks and are moving freely in the village. Informing the police was our duty as citizens of the country,” Suresh Ahirwar, a labourer said.
Grocery store owner Raju Ahirwar told HT that the recent demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 banknotes was one of the main reasons behind normalcy returning to the village.
“The demonetisation move has somewhat taken away the limelight from Khejradev. People in the village are now only talking about this measure by the government,” he said.
However, despite the fear that the encounter left them in, the villagers are sure of one thing — that they would do the same again.