The paper is a case study on the Khatik, an untouchable caste, traditionally engaged in butchery, vegetable vending and pig rearing. Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh became not only a centre of textile and leather industry, but also the centre of bristle trade for the whole of India. The story of Mithoo Lall, the self crowned "king of bristles", illustrates the rise and decline of the Khatik due to bristle exports under colonialism. After the decline of the bristle trade the Khatik switched over to public pig rearing which became a menace to the whole of Kanpur. Their antagonism against the Muslims was used by Hindutva forces during the 1992 post-Ayodhya riots. Recently, the Khatik came back to the Congress and their alliance with the BJP seems to be over.