Jamshedpur: Prominent members of the Khatik community in Jharkhand are seeking inclusion in the Scheduled Castes (SC) category, citing their poor economic and social conditions. The state government has initiated a survey in East Singhbhum and Seraikela Kharsawan districts to evaluate the eligibility of this caste for inclusion in the Dalit category. Survey officers Dr. Shabbir Hussain and Sanjay Kumar Mehta have completed the survey in Haldi Pokhar and Seraikela.
Members of the Khatik community, including National Senior Vice President of All India Khatik Samaj Radheshyam Sonkar, National General Secretary Rajesh Sonkar, Ramesh Sonkar of Dhanbad, State General Secretary Deepak Sonkar from Ramgarh, East Singhbhum District President Brijesh Sonkar, Rural Area President Prakash Sonkar, and District President Seraikela-Kharsawan Ratan Sonkar, actively participated in the survey.
Currently classified under Category-1 of Other Backward Classes (OBC), the Khatik caste is seeking reclassification into the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category due to their socio-economic challenges. A two-member team from Ranchi was dispatched to investigate the appropriateness of this demand.
Under the reservation system, the Khatik caste has been categorized as Scheduled Castes in certain Indian states and as Other Backward Classes in others. In Gujarat, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana, they are classified as OBC. However, they have been included in the Scheduled Castes in Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra, and West Bengal.
Sir H. Risley has described the Khatiks as a caste of farmers and vegetable sellers. They are divided into various sub-groups based on their livelihoods, including agricultural farmers and moneylenders. Agricultural farmers are involved in farming, while fruit vendors, also known as Sonkar, sell fruits and dry fruits. Their main sub-divisions include Mewafarosh, Suryavanshi, Sonkar, Chak, Chungan, and Arektika.
The Khatik caste, found in the Indian subcontinent, is widespread in South Asia, with populations in India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. In India, they primarily reside in Gujarat, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Maharashtra, Delhi, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka. Khatiks can be both Hindu and Muslim, with a majority being Hindu in India and Muslim in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The term "Khatik" originates from the Sanskrit word "Khattika," meaning butcher or hunter. Historically, the Khatiks were involved in performing sacrificial animal rituals. In ancient times, they conducted animal sacrifices in yagya and religious rituals, including those in temples. Khatak Brahmins, mentioned in the Puranas, were believed to be the only ones whose sacrifices were accepted.