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The wholesale agriculture market in Mandsaur, one of the largest in Madhya Pradesh, wore a deserted look as agitating farmers stayed away from it for the 10th day today, leading to losses running into several crore rupees. The Mandsaur Krishi Upaj Mandi, spread over 30 hectares of land on the outskirts of the town, saw a sharp dip in the arrival of farm produce on June 1, when the farmers' stir, demanding a better price for their produce and a loan waiver, began in the state. The mandi normally attracts about 5,000 farmers everyday from several districts of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and records an average daily turnover of Rs 4 to 5 crore. Since June 2, trading activities have come to a complete halt and the market remained empty, causing losses of several crore rupees, said M S Muniya, the secretary of the market committee. The market mainly deals in wheat, garlic, coriander and lentil. The mandi committee, which collects a levy on the sale, has suffered a loss of Rs 10 lakh so far and its 400-odd traders too have incurred huge losses. "The stir has hit us badly. There has been no business for the past 10 days. But we have to pay our employees and workers," said Bablu Agarwal, a trader. Another trader, Narendra Anna, echoed Agarwal's views and expressed hoped that the situation will become normal soon. Scores of daily wagers too bore the brunt of the agitation.
With no income, they had to struggle to make ends meet. The market committee secretary hoped that once the curfew was lifted, farmers will return to the market with their produce. A curfew was imposed after five people were killed in police firing when the farmers' agitation turned violent on June 6. Later, another farmer Ghanashyam Dhakad (26), died in Badavan village in the violence-hit Mandsaur district. The villagers alleged that the local BJP MP and MLAs have not visited them yet. The Mandsaur-Neemuch region, about 300 km from the state capital Bhopal, was the nerve centre of the stir. Later, protests spread to some other parts of the state. Earlier today, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan sat on an indefinite fast at Dussehra Maidan in Bhopal for "restoration of peace". He has appealed to farmers to come to Dussehra Maidan and have a dialogue with him.