Chamar is a Dalit sub-caste mainly found in the northern states, such as Punjab (India), Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the traditional occupation is leather-working and tanning. Chamar is a second largest caste in india and most highly influential group among schedule castes.Traditionally their social status was very poor due to the rigidity of the Indian caste system, however in modern days they are one of the most progressive castes in India.
Chamars in the Punjab
The most politically and socially influential Chamars are from the state of Punjab (India), where they form 11% of the population with Dalits comprising 27% of the population. In the Punjab they are divided into various groups, such as ''Ad-Dharm'' and ''Ravidassia''. In Majha area they share the same Gotras as Saraswati and Mohyal Brahmins, in Doaba and Malwa area they share family names with Jats and Rajputs. Where as in Malwa most of the Chamars turned to Sikhism . In Majha they are being called Ravidasia, in Doaba they are being called Adi -Dharmi . They are highly concentrated in the Doaba of Punjab. In Malwa Region Chamars have a faith in Sikhisim.
Chamars in Rajasthan
Chamar denotes profession but nowadays misunderstood with caste.The castes which were involved in leather work in past ( before independence )were termed as Chamar in general.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..Now a days.Raigar (leather tanners ) and Mochi (Shoe-makers) are other two predominant castes related with leather profession.
Chamars in Uttar Pardesh & Bihar
In U.P. chamars are being called Jatav, Kureels,Dohrey,Dhusia etc. Jatavs are mainly concentrated in the Western part of U.P and also in Delhi and Haryana.Famous freedom fighter Banke Chamar was also from Village Kurarpur, Dist. Jaunpur ,Uttar Pradesh.This Brave Revolutionary laid down his life for the country and was hanged by britishers for his active role in freedom struggle of 1857.
The Chamar Community have a history of military service. Many Chamar families are descended from Kshatriya Communities which is why they share common family names, for example Bhatti, Chauhan, Toor. The Chamars of Punjab and Haryana are considered the most exceptional example due to their historic involvement in the Sikh Light Infantry and the Chamar Regiment.
Sikh Light Infantry
One of the most decorated regiments of the Indian Army is the Sikh Light Infantry, which is composed mostly of Chamar and Mazhabi Sikhs.
The Sikh Light Infantry finds its origins in the Sikh Pioneers raised in 1857. Sikh Pioneers were used in various military campaigns in India and abroad, and highly regarded for their determined resolve to complete the assigned tasks against all opposition. The Sikh Pioneers were later merged into the Sappers and Miners. World War-II and its need for additional troops saw the rise of Mazhabi Sikhs as a regiment in 1941. The designation was changed to the Sikh Light Infantry in 1944.
In view of its linkages with the Pioneers, the Sikh Light Infantry received its earlier seniority after the Sikh Regiment. The Sikh Light Infantry draws its man power from the Mazhabi and elements amongst the Sikhs. They had long formed part of the armies of the Sikhs' Tenth Guru and in later Khalsa armies. The regiment has produced one Army Chief, General Ved Prakash Malik (10th Sikh LI).
The Chamar Regiment
During World War II, the Chamar Regiment was created and was involved on the Pacific War Japanese front. The Ist Chamar Regiment was awarded the ' Battle Honour of Kohima' for its distinguished role in IInd World War .The Chamar Regiment was disbanded after the war.
Former Pakistani Leader Ayub Khan was an officer of Chamar Regiment.