Mark Koenig

Mark Koenig (Collective Campaign for Peace – COCAP): Mark was born in St. Louis, Missouri. After graduating from the International School of Bern in Switzerland in 2000, he spent one year at Davidson College in North Carolina and then moved on to Johns Hopkins University where he received a bachelor's degree with honors in Political Science in 2004. While studying at Johns Hopkins, Mark completed internships with genomics researcher Craig Venter, US House Representative Chris Van Hollen, and in London with Lady Sylvia Hermon, a Member of Parliament from Northern Ireland. After graduation, Mark moved to Shenzhen, China where he lived for two years teaching English at Shenzhen Senior High School. At the time of his fellowship, Mark was studying at Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Boston focusing on post-conflict reconstruction, law and development. After his fellowship, Mark wrote: “I think that perhaps it is my interest in and understanding of community level dynamics and activities that has developed the most while here. The significance of community level interactions and relationships as it pertains to the events that take place on a national level is an intriguing topic that this summer has given me new insight into.”

Jo Khan Khatik

30 Aug

Jo Khan Khatik lives in Howaldarpur Village. Howaldarpur is a community consisting of about 20 families, half of which are Chidimaar caste and half which are Khatik. While both castes are considered “impure” traditionally, the Chidimaar occupy a slightly higher position on the caste hierarchy. This supposed superiority leads to disputes, discrimination and tension in their small community.

Reasons to explain why the Chidimaar perceive themselves as somehow better than the Khatik are complicated. There are religious justifications, but most simply there is the traditional job of the Khatik. Khatik caste families are traditionally pig farmers. As pigs are considered a dirty and impure animal therefore their masters must also assume some of that impurity. So Jo Khan Khatik suffers prejudices against him and his family for their keeping of pigs, only Jo Khan does not have any pigs. In fact there is only one family in Howaldarpur who keeps pigs.

As I was trying to focus my interviews of the traditional work and jobs of the people I met, I was curious as to why the entire village had abandoned pig farming. Jo Khan Khatik has an answer ready that was difficult to argue with; “I do not have enough food to feed my children, so how should I feed animals?”

Without the resources to continue their traditional work, the Khatik have fallen back like so many people on manual labor and other jobs that create some minimal income. Jo Khan Khatik and his family mostly collect and sell firewood to earn money. Before it had been a family affair, and all of the women and children in the family would accompany the men. Recently collecting firewood in the forests has been made illegal as the forests are being strictly protected. There are more guards in the forests now that make it more dangerous to go and collect wood there. So now only the men go while the women stay home meaning their already meager income has now been cut almost in half.

Jo Khan’s situation is dire, but in fact he is better off that many in Howaldarpur. Mishiri Khatik started an argument with Jo Khan during the interview because Mishiri wanted Jo Khan to stop complaining because Jo Khan’s family has their own house with enough rooms for the entire family.

Mishiri Khatik is perhaps the oldest looking man I have ever met in my life. His thin, frail frame seems to struggle to support his every step and movement. Mishiri had interrupted Jo Khan and clearly wanted to talk. His conversation faded in and out of coherence and other impatient villagers soon told him to be quiet and listen. Before falling silent Mishiri did tell my friend Amol, the translator for the day, his age. Amol could hardly hide his surprise. Still looking slightly awestruck Amol turned to me and said “He thinks he is only 60 years old.”

Posted By Mark Koenig

Posted Aug 30th, 2007



    November 9, 2007


    Your notion is incorrect about the Khatiks.Khatiks are originally Rajputs a fighter community of India.The word Khatik is derived from ‘Khadg’ the ‘Sword’which they always held in their hand for fighting.Another theory says that they were servants of Hindu Khatriya/Rajput kings who used to give ‘Bali'(devoting animals like goat,sheep,cock etc.) by cutting these animal’s head in a single stroke of their sword & while performing this act when the sword hit the wooden log beneath the sound comes ‘khat’ or ‘cut’. The people who used to cut neck in a single stroke i.e.aek(means one in India)thus khat+aek became Khatik later on. The third theory says that they were the hunters ‘Aakhetak’ is the Indian word for them,which became Khatik with the passage of time.This matches to your chidimar to some extant which means birdhunter. But pig forming was never a profession of khatiks nor it could be in future also because of this community’s self respect, courage & fighting spirit. In India professional pig forming is done by two other communities those are Sonkar & Sweepers/Valmiki involved in scavanging job.

  • tottan

    December 22, 2007


    I agree with Uday’s analysis . As there are multiple theories on origin of Khatik as a community. Some of the beliefs are mentioned by Uday are plausible looking at the current socio- economic status of Khatik community in India. I have heard of another theory in which Khatik’s have been referred as subcast of Rajputs ( Dhangar Rajput). There are many surnames in Khatik community which has striking commonality with Rajput surnames e.g. Pundir, Panwar, Sarwalia etc

  • mark

    January 7, 2008


    I apologize for the long delay in responding to your comments. I have not been frequenting these comment boards. I appreciate your input, the origins I described were not derived from any academic study on my part or even academic opinion. I relied on the information given to me by activists, whose knowledge might reflect apocryphal misconceptions about the group.

    So thank you for your very informed comment.

  • ghasilal khanna

    April 16, 2008


    i agree with uday singh ji, we are aakhetak it,s true.

  • mark

    April 28, 2008


    Thank you for your comment Ghasilal. I appreciate the insight from attentive readers like yourself.

  • praveen

    May 2, 2008


    I fully agree with Uday’s analysis w.r.t origin of Khatik caste.
    Khatik’s were into the profession of sheep, goat, farming etc. They were serving the Rajput kings in ancient history.

    No offence, but Pig farming was part of Sonkar / sweeper community during those ancient times.


  • mark

    June 24, 2008



    I am happy to have another informative contribution to this post. There must be more to the story of this particular community then I came to understand. I am glad that there are so many people out there willing to share their knowledge about this subject with me. I am very interested to learn more.

    So, thank you for your comment.


  • Gagan Rajora

    August 12, 2008


    My question is for Mr. Uday Singh. Sir, if khatiks were Dhangar rajputs then why do they fall in low caste category in various parts of India (Specially Rajasthan)?
    I am really thankful to Uday Ji for sharing his knowledge on Khatik community’s origin. Depending on the surnames, can we stand up in the society and say that we are Rajputs?


    February 5, 2009


    Comments from GD Sonkar
    I agree with Mr.Uday that our profession was animal harvesing and fruits and vegitanble selling. But our forefather never says that we were Rajputs. This time it is necessary to unite and became political pillar, without politics and high education our development is not possible. So, we have to unite under the leadership of Dr.Udit Raj,Ex.Incometax commissioner and National Chairman of Indian Justice Party (belongs to Khatik Community). We have to leave our bad habits and leg pulling of each other. Thanking u.

  • vikas mogha

    June 8, 2009


    if any one want to prove that we are rajpoot because we have the same surnames as rajpoots have, really i want to inform my all brothers of khatik samaj that Balmiki, naayi, dhiwar etc are also have same surname as rajpoots have. according to them it means Balmiki, naayi, Dhiwar ect all communities are from Rajpoots origin, in fact, residents of a perticular state id used theirs king’s Surname as their surame

  • vikas mogha

    June 8, 2009


    there are so many definitions. Some says that is a word of sanskrit, it is also used in Urdu and Arabic language, some say khatik words comes from khagik, khag means a dear and khagik means a hunter of a dear, a wild caste khadakwanshi which is included in S.T. Say khatiks are a part of them. No doubt these wild caste was also describe in Hindu epic Ramayana as bheel(aakhetak), some say khatik word is comes from the words khadik, khadak means a weapon, and khadik means a weapon holder. We admit that we have a very clear relation with a weapon but all the khatiks are not butter, some khatiks choose a business of goat meat. Some are the business of pet animals as it is describe in Mahabharata also. Some accepted the agriculture for their living, here it should be admitable that khatiks are the care takers of fruit garden and agriculture land due to they have no fear from wild animals and they are always able to kill a wild animal, they are also the care
    takers of pet animals. Due to this boldness, khatiks have position as a bold caste. This is a fact that khatiks caste has original Indian origin this caste is used by the foreigners. Some khatiks have accepted Islam. It should be admitting that the khatik was not come with foreigners as gulam.
    here DHANKAR means a person who do pet animal forming for their living. a pig is also a pet animal

  • vikas mogha

    June 9, 2009


    With many others profession, Khatiks are also doing the business of goat’s mutton for their living and for getting their earnings so that they might fulfills their family requirements. But the lord Shri ram chandra went to kill a dear for satisfying the feelings of seeta mata. In Hindus epics and the great poet kalidaas describe in his play the meghaduta that the great devotion for Hinduism was- the maharishi killed 1 lac cows for their great worship call as yagya, this was the great worship of hindu religion. When a kharastiya king did same and he gave the death of 1 lac cows for yagya, it was vained because a king did it. After that the cows have been made for worship. Example is given about it; the water of river chambal is red because the skin of 1 lac cows was washed there. Khatiks are not the killers of cows. They are protector of human circle.
    Some say the khatik is the sub caste of Dhankar Rajpoots as same as the sonkars, (the pig forming caste according to respected sir mr. Uday singh Tundele. And the pig forming caste is also included in Dhankar Rajpoot sub caste, when one admit that he is a dhankar rajpoot, why he don’t want to admit this fact that pig forming caste is also a sub caste of dhankar rajpoot). Dhankar means the care taker of pet animals or a person, who do pet animal forming. A dhankar don’t allow killing of animals. And how we can agree, some sub castes as Gujjar etc in dhankar are not from Indian origin which included as the sister caste of khatiks in the list. Our history does clear that Gujjar or Rajpoots are not Indian origin castes. We are also telling here, the khatiks are the ancient Indian, who live in jungle and people call them Aakhetak.
    The Dhankar may be khatiks, sonkars are also khatik but We khatiks are only khatik. In our caste certificate which is issued by government to khatik as a reservation caste, we are only khatik. Because the Indian society don’t like profession of “butcher” or khatik so people who try to hide their caste, and want to have up their self in Indian society after showing themselves as rajpoot. They use words like dhankar Rajpoot etc. now science is proving that a man can change their body shape color and presence after 20000 years. The science has proved what are the color, height body and presence of an Indian origin person. I am completely agree with Mr. Ghan Shyam Dass Sonkar and Mr. Gagan Rajoraj ji
    Thanking you

  • Ekta Sharma

    June 22, 2011


    Hi All,
    I read your conversation & i need a solution. Is there anyone who can help me out.


  • ankit sawariya

    July 5, 2015


    If Khatiks are aakhetak or hunters of Indian origin then why my intellectual friends we were not given schedule tribe status rather we were originally given obc status in starting prior to sc status ?

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