A decade of suffering, one Assam woman’s struggle for citizenship continues Fulkumari Barman was declared a 'D' voter a decade ago. Since then, the mental trauma and difficulties have almost pushed her into hopelessness.

24, Aug 2023 | CJP Team

In a remote corner of Pokalagi village in Dhubri District of Assam lives Fulkumari Barman, a 37-year-old woman whose life took a turbulent turn a decade ago lives. CJP’s team Assam constantly maintains its humanitarian work in Assam. It holds legal workshops, provides legal aid, counselling etc., and along with these, it keeps a check on the people affected by the citizenship crisis and ensures that they are not pushed into hopelessness. Fulkumari Barman is one such person CJP has kept contact with after they came across her in 2022. 

Married into a Rajbongshi family in the 1990s, Fulkumari originally hailing from the neighbouring state of West Bengal saw her dreams of a peaceful life shatter as she was marked as a ‘D’ voter shortly after enrolling as a voter in her new community.

Every day of each week, a formidable team of community volunteers, district volunteer motivators and lawyers—CJP’s Team Assam – is providing ready at hand paralegal guidance, counselling and actual legal aid to hundreds of individuals and families paralysed by the citizenship-driven humanitarian crisis in the state. Our boots on the ground approach has ensured that 12,00,000 persons filled their forms to enlist in the NRC (2017-2019) and over the past one year alone we have helped release 52 persons from Assam’s dreaded detention camps. Our intrepid team provides paralegal assistance to, on an average of 72-96 families each month. Our district-level, legal team works on 25 Foreigner Tribunal cases month on month. This ground level data ensures informed interventions by CJP in our Constitutional Courts, the Guwahati High Court and the Supreme Court. Such work is possible because of you, individuals all over India, who believe in this work. Our maxim, Equal Rights for All.  #HelpCJPHelpAssam. Donate NOW!

Fulkumari’s journey from being a young bride to facing the harsh realities of being designated a ‘D’ voter on the official list has been nothing short of a mental and emotional ordeal. The new tag plunged her into a world of uncertainty, and has cast a shadow over her identity and deprived her of her basic rights. 

Born and raised in West Bengal, Fulkumari’s arrival in Pokalagi village was marked by happiness and excitement of a new beginning as she embarked on her journey as a married woman. Enrolling as a voter was meant to symbolise her official integration into the community.

However, fate had other plans as a few years later she found herself  labelled as a ‘D’ voter.  This incident seemed to promise to alter the course of her life forever. This year it has been almost a decade of her suffering through the crisis. 

Fulkumari’s daily existence is affected by the constant reminder of the status of her citizenship, a label that made suspect not just her voting rights, but also her entire identity and existence. The weight of this situation bore heavily on her health and life, and led to a struggle with mental trauma that has continued through the years.  

Despite her desire for justice, Fulkumari’s financial instability stood as an impossible barrier preventing her from challenging her ‘D’ voter status in court. This lack of resources held her back from accessing a system that could help correct this situation and restore her dignity. As the years went by, she also found herself prevented from accessing government welfare schemes, which further worsened her hardships, and thus this vicious circle kept pushing her downwards into despair.

In Fulkumari Barman’s own words, this suffering felt like a curse she had no control over, despite her birth in the very heart of the nation. Her story sheds light on the larger struggle faced by countless individuals who find themselves trapped in bureaucratic mazes, unable to break free in Assam.


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