Datarnagar: Elections come and go but the miseries of Kabutaras, a nomadic community turned settlers in Bundelkhand remains unchanged.

With polls over in the region, the community that is sparsely spread in the region straddling across Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, is back to its traditional hooch business unconcerned by political divides.

As the date of counting for the recently concluded Assembly elections near, it is time to make a kill for Kabutaras, who are busy brewing what is called in common parlance 'Lahanga brand' or 'Kanjad Whisky'.
It is called so because the hooch is brewed by women and the community is also called Kanjad (nomadic).

In Datarnagar 8 kilometers away from Jhansi town, villagers give blank looks when asked whether they ever thought of contesting Assembly polls. They had never gone beyond village pramukh elections.


In the cauldron of caste conflict that continues to riddle the Hindi heartland, Kabutaras seem to have been left out in edcuation and employment sectors and even a political voice owing to their dispersed population and lack of organisation.

A novel "Alma Kabutari" by Hindi writer Maitreyi Pushpa won the SAARC Literary Award 2006 for its poignant depiction of the harsh realities of life in the community.

In the intriguing world of Kabutaras, women take the lead role in the hooch business as the men prefer a subsidiary role to avoid physical harassment by the police. Many Kabutara women find themselves booked in police cases as such.
But a quest of change is sweeping the community now and Datarnagar is a testimony to it.

Jainarayan, ex-Pramukh of the village says, "around 300 boys and girls go from the village to study in different English medium schools of Jhansi. We could not study but our children are. They will change our fate."

(Agencies)