New Delhi: Home minister Rajnath Singh will shortly meet the chief ministers of north eastern states to discuss safeguards in the backdrop of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, the government said in a statement on Monday.

The bill, which aims to provide citizenship to people forced to seek shelter in India because of religious persecution or fear of persecution in their home countries, has sparked violence in the North-East.

“The Union Home Minister will soon be calling a meeting of the Chief Ministers of the concerned States. They will further discuss about the safeguards that need to be provided for protecting the interests of these States and protecting their cultural & linguistic identity," the statement said.

The bill, which primarily aims to help Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, was passed by the Lok Sabha last week but could not be taken up by the Rajya Sabha.

“Shri Rajnath Singh said certain misgivings about the Citizenship Amendment Bill are being spread. As Union Home Minister had said in his Statement in the Lok Sabha on 8th January and again in the Rajya Sabha on 9th January, the Government is fully committed to preserving the cultural and linguistic identity and heritage of Assam as well as the other States in the North East," the statement added.

The issue assumes importance for the BJP given that in the past four years, the National Democratic Alliance has formed governments in six of the eight north eastern states.

The centre’s outreach also comes after the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) dealt a blow to its state ally, the BJP, just ahead of the Lok Sabha elections by pulling out of the Sarbananda Sonowal-led Assam government.

The citizenship amendment bill is an anomaly for Assam, which is in the midst of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) process that seeks to identify and deport illegal Bangladeshi migrants from the state.

Sonowal led a delegation from Assam to meet Singh on this weekend. It included senior state government minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who also is the convener of the North-East Democratic Alliance.

“They discussed the issues related to safeguards for preserving the cultural and linguistic identity and heritage of Assam and implementation of Clause-6 of the Assam Accord and issues related to grant of tribal status to six communities," the statement added.

The AGP had also stressed that the bill will interfere with the Assam Accord and derail the NRC process. However, according to the committee report, a copy of which has been reviewed by Mint, non-Muslim minorities who came to Assam from Bangladesh between 1 January 1966, and 24 March 1974, can be granted citizenship.

Singh also met Bodo group representatives and Manipur chief minister N. Biren Singh over the weekend.

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