The firing by Assam Police last month in which six persons died in a village located along the state’s border with Meghalaya, had been done in self-defence, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said in the Assembly on Saturday, The Indian Express reported.

On November 22, five residents of Meghalaya and an official of the Assam Forest Guard after the Assam Police opened fire. Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma had claimed that the shooting took place in Mukroh village of his state’s West Jaintia Hills district. Sangma had said that officials of the Assam Police and the Assam Forest Guard chased down a truck carrying timber from their state before detaining it at Mukroh.

However, authorities in Assam have claimed that the village falls within their jurisdiction and only four persons died in the firing.

While responding to a question in the Assam Assembly on Saturday, Sarma, who also holds the state’s home ministry, said that an Assam forest official was “attacked and killed by miscreants from Meghalaya”, The Indian Express reported.

He added: “...Thereafter five people died as a result of police firing which was done in self-defence and for protection of government properties.”

Sarma’s comments were in contrast to his statements made a day after the shooting, when he had said that the police action appeared to have been unnecessary and unprovoked.

However, on Saturday, referring to a report by the superintendent of police of West Karbi Anglong district, Sarma said that villagers from Meghalaya had “surrounded and attacked” Assam officials and demanded the release of three timber smugglers, The Economic Times reported.

Territorial disputes between the two states had begun when Meghalaya was carved out of Assam on January 21, 1972, under the Assam Reorganisation Act, 1971. Disputes arose after Meghalaya had challenged the law.