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Chamar is one of the untouchable communities, or dalits, who are now classified as a Scheduled Caste under modern India's system of positive discrimination. As untouchables, they were traditionally considered outside the Hindu ritual ranking system of castes known as varna. They are found throughout the Indian subcontinent, mainly in the northern states of India and in Pakistan and Nepal.

Leather-bottle makers. - Tashrih al-aqvam (1825), f.360v - BL Add. 27255.jpg
Leather-bottle makers (Presumably members of the ‘Chamaar’ caste), Tashrih al-aqvam (1825)
Regions with significant populations
India • Pakistan

Ramnarayan Rawat posits that the association of the Chamar community with a traditional occupation of tanning was constructed, and that the Chamars were instead historically agriculturists.[1]

The term chamar has also been used as a pejorative word for anyone whom the describer considers to be of low standing.[2]


Chamars who have adopted the weaving profession and abandoned tanning and leathercraft, identify themselves as Julaha Chamar; R. K. Pruthi suggests this is in the hope that they might in future be considered as Julaha by other communities. They believe that leatherwork is "degrading" when compared to weaving.[3]

Chamar Regiment

The 1st Chamar Regiment was an infantry regiment formed by the British during World War II. Officially, it was created on 1 March 1943, as the 27th Battalion 2nd Punjab Regiment was converted.[4][full citation needed] The Chamar Regiment was one of the army units which were awarded honours for its role in the Battle of Kohima.[5] The Regiment was disbanded in 1946. In 2011, several politicians demanded that it be revived.[6]


According to the 2001 census of India, the Chamars comprise around 14 per cent of the population in the state of Uttar Pradesh[7] and 12 percent of that in Punjab.[8]

Chamar population in India by State, 2001
State Population State Population % Notes
West Bengal[9] 999,756 1.25%
Bihar[10] 4,090,070 5%
Delhi[11] 893,384 6.45%
Chandigarh[12] 48,159 5.3%
Chhattisgarh[13] 1,659,303 8%
Gujarat[14] 1,032,128 1.7%

In Gujarat also known as Bhambi, Asodi, Chamadia, Harali, Khalpa, Mochi, Nalia, Madar, Ranigar, Ravidas, Rohidas, Rohit, Samgar.[14] Gujarat's government has made an effort to change their name from 'Chamar' to 'Rohit' and to change the name of their villages and towns from 'Chamarvas' to 'Rohitvas'.[15]

Haryana[16] 2,079,132 9.84% Known as Jatav
Himachal Pradesh[17] 414,669 6.8%
Jammu & Kashmir[18] 488,257 4.82%
Jharkhand[19] 837,333 3.1%
Madhya Pradesh[20] 837,333 9.3% Chamars are primarily concentrated in Sagar, Morena, Rewa,

Bhind and Chhatarpur districts. Chamars work in land measurement are described as Balahi.[21] Balahi have major concentration in Ujjain, Khargone and Dewas districts.

Maharashtra[22] 1,234,874 1.28%
Punjab[23] 2,800,000 11.9% The Chamar caste cluster (34.93%) consists of two castes of Chamars and Ad-dharmis. Chamar—an umbrella caste category—includes Chamars, Jatia Chamars, Rehgars, Raigars, Ramdasias, and Ravidassias.[24]
Rajasthan[25] 6,100,236 10.8% Chamars in Rajasthan can only be identified in the districts adjoining to the states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. The districts of Bikaner, Shriganganagar, Hanumangarh, Churu, Jhunjhunu, Alwar, Bharatpur and Dhaulpur are inhabited by Chamars. In the districts of Bharatpur, Dhaulpur and parts of Alwar (adjoining to Bharatpur) they are known as Meghwal[26][page needed] Raigar (leather tanners) and Mochi (shoe makers) are other two castes related to the leather profession.[citation needed]In Bikaner region, they are known as Balai.[27]
Uttar Pradesh[28] 19,803,106 14%
Uttaranchal[29] 444,535 5%

The 2011 Census of India for Uttar Pradesh combined the Chamar, Dhusia, Jhusia, Jatava Scheduled Caste communities and returned a population of 22,496,047.[30]

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ Yadav, Bhupendra (21 February 2012). "Aspirations of Chamars in North India". Chennai, India: The Hindu. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  2. ^ Singh, Sanjay L. (20 August 2008). "Calling an SC 'chamar' offensive, punishable, says apex court". The Economic Times. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
  3. ^ Pruthi, R. K. Indian caste system. Discovery. p. 189. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
  4. ^ "Orders of Battle - 27/2 Punjab Regiment [British Commonwealth]". Retrieved 31 March 2011.
  5. ^ "The Battle of Kohima" (PDF).
  6. ^ "RJD man Raghuvansh calls for reviving Chamar Regiment". Retrieved 31 March 2011.
  7. ^ "Uttar Pradesh data highlights: the Scheduled Castes, Census of India 2001" (PDF).
  8. ^ "Uttar Pradesh data highlights: the Scheduled Castes" (PDF).
  9. ^ "West Bengal — DATA HIGHLIGHTS: THE SCHEDULED CASTES — Census of India 2001" (PDF). Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  10. ^ "Census table" (PDF).
  11. ^ "Microsoft Word - Delhi comments.doc" (PDF). Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  12. ^ "Census table" (PDF).
  13. ^ "Census table" (PDF).
  14. ^ a b "State and district-wise Scheduled Castes population for each caste seperately [sic], 2011 - GUJARAT".
  15. ^ Dave, Nayan (8 October 2016). "'Rohits' to replace Chamars in Gujarat". Gandhinagar: The Pioneer.
  16. ^ "Census table" (PDF).
  17. ^ "Census table" (PDF).
  18. ^ "Census table" (PDF).
  19. ^ "Census table" (PDF).
  20. ^ "Census table" (PDF).
  21. ^ Kapoor, Subodh (21 July 2018). "Indian Encyclopaedia". Cosmo Publications – via Google Books.
  22. ^ "Census table" (PDF).
  23. ^ "Census table" (PDF).
  24. ^ Ram, Ronki (21 January 2017). "Internal Caste Cleavages among Dalits in Punjab". Economic & Political Weekly. 52 (3).
  25. ^ "Census table" (PDF).
  26. ^ Rawat, Shyam (2010). Studies in Social Protest. VEDAMS. ISBN 8131603318.
  27. ^ Balai: Chamars in Bikaner region are known as Balai.
  28. ^ "Census table" (PDF).
  29. ^ "Census table" (PDF).
  30. ^ "A-10 Individual Scheduled Caste Primary Census Abstract Data and its Appendix - Uttar Pradesh". Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
  31. ^ "I will be the best PM and Mayawati is my chosen heir". Indian Express. 2 May 2003. ...I am a chamar from Punjab...
  32. ^ "Mayawati talks of a secret successor". India Today. Indo-Asian News Service. 9 August 2008. Archived from the original on 4 April 2019. Retrieved 4 April 2019.

Further reading