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Title: Chamar  
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Subject: Ad-Dharmi, 1901 Census of the North West Frontier Province, Ramdasia, Roman Catholic Brahmin, Scheduled Castes
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Leather-bottle makers (Presumably members of the ‘Chamaar’ caste), Tashrih al-aqvam (1825)
Regions with significant populations
India • Pakistan
Related ethnic groups
other Ramdasia Ravidassia Julaha

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 mainly in the northern states of India and in Pakistan [1][2] and Nepal.

Ram Narayan 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.[3]


According to the 2001 census of India, the Chamars comprise around 14 per cent of the population in the state of Uttar Pradesh[4] and 12 percent of that in Punjab .[5]

Chamar population in India by State, 2001
State Population State Population % Notes
Bengal[6] 999,756 1.25%
Bihar[7] 4,090,070 5%
Delhi[8] 893,384 6.45%
Chandigarh[9] 48,159 5.3%
Chhattisgarh[10] 1,659,303 8%
Gujarat[11] 1,041,886 2% In Gujarat they are known as Rohit (caste) and Bhambi Khalpa
Haryana[12] 2,079,132 9.84% Most Chamars in the districts of Hisar, Jind, Panipat, Karnal, Sonepat, Rohtak, Kaithal, Gurgaon, Faridabad,are Jatav Chamars who largely follow Ravidasia sect.
Himachal Pradesh[13] 414,669 6.8% The Chamars are the second largest SC caste in the state after the Kori. Chamars are mainly found in the following districts: Kangra, Mandi and Una.
Jammu & Kashmir[14] 488,257 4.82%
Jharkhand[15] 837,333 3.1%
Madya Pradesh[16] 5,603,723 9.3% Chamars are primarily concentrated in Sagar, Morena, Rewa, Bhind and Chattarpur districts. Chamars work in land measurement are described as Balahi.[17] Balahi have major concentration in Ujjain, West Nimar and Dewas districts.[16]
Maharashtra[18] 1,234,874 1.28%
Punjab[19] 2,800,000 11.9% The most politically and socially influential Chamars are from the state of Punjab, where they form nearly 12% of the population (2.8 million), with Dalits comprising 27% of the population. In the Punjab they are divided into various groups, such as Ad-Dharm, Ravidasi, Ramdasia, and Chamar. In Malwa most Chamars turned to Sikhism, whereas in Doaba most of them did not opt for Sikhism. In Majha they are called Ramdasia and Ravidasia, in Doaba they are called Adi Dharmi. They are highly concentrated in the Doaba, and the Malwa region of Punjab, where they form over 25% of the population.
Rajasthan[20] 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[21] Raigar (leather tanners) and Mochi (shoe makers) are other two castes related to the leather profession.In Bikaner region, they are known as Balai.[22]
Uttar Pradesh[23] 19,803,106 14% Most Chamars reside in Western Uttar Pradesh are known as Jatav. In this state, the political party of Chamars Bahujan Samaj Party has its political base and this has led to Bahujan Samaj Party to win the state elections and chief minister post by Mayawati four times since 1990.
Uttaranchal[24] 444,535 5%


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 in the future. They believe that leatherwork is "degrading" when compared to weaving.[25]


Sikh Light Infantry

The Sikh Chamar Ramdasia has a history of military service and are heavily represented in the Sikh Light Infantry.

Chamar Regiment

The Chamar Regiment badges

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.[26] The Chamar Regiment which was involved in the Pacific War Japanese front and was awarded the Battle Honor of Kohima for theirs distinguished role in the Battle of Kohima.[27] The Regiment was disbanded in 1946.[28] Recently, several politicians have demanded that The Chamar Regiment be revived.[28]

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ "Pakistan's caste system: the untouchable's struggle". Retrieved 2013-03-30. 
  2. ^ "Socio-Economic Position of Leatherworkers in Gulbarga City". Retrieved 2013-03-30. 
  3. ^ Yadav, Bhupendra (21 February 2012). "Aspirations of Chamars in North India". Chennai, India:  
  4. ^ "Uttar Pradesh data highlights: the Scheduled Castes, Census of India 2001". 
  5. ^ "Uttar Pradesh data highlights: the Scheduled Castes". 
  6. ^ "West Bengal — DATA HIGHLIGHTS: THE SCHEDULED CASTES — Census of India 2001". Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ a b
  17. ^|title=Balahi Chamars employed to measure land.
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ Rawat, Shyam (2010). Studies in Social Protest. VEDAMS.  
  22. ^ Balai: Chamars in Bikaner region are known as Balai.. 
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^ Pruthi, R. K. Indian caste system. Discovery. p. 189. Retrieved 2012-04-14. 
  26. ^ "Orders of Battle - 27/2 Punjab Regiment [British Commonwealth]". Retrieved 2011-03-31. 
  27. ^ "The Battle of Kohima" (PDF). 
  28. ^ a b "RJD man Raghuvansh calls for reviving Chamar Regiment". Retrieved 2011-03-31. 
  29. ^ "I will be the best PM and Mayawati is my chosen heir".  
  30. ^ "I will be the best PM and Mayawati is my chosen heir".  
  31. ^ "A Chamar will be my successor: Mayawati". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 29 August 2006. 
  32. ^ "Tytler's party list calls India's Speaker a Chamar". Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  33. ^ "Cong's doublespeak on caste". Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  34. ^ "Amarinder disregarded events organised by state unit, says Kaypee". Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  35. ^ "Congress's dalit card turning against established dalit leaders of Doaba region". The Times Of India. 21 October 2012. Retrieved 2013-01-14. 

Further reading

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