A Bharatiya Janata Party legislator from Bairia Assembly seat in Uttar Pradesh on Friday defended his party colleague for allegedly shooting dead a man over a dispute at a meeting where the police were also present. MLA Surendra Singh said accused Dhirendra Pratap Singh opened fire in self-defence.

“The incident is very upsetting, it should not have taken place but I condemn the one-sided investigation of administration,” said the BJP legislator. “Nobody is looking at the pain of six women who have been injured in the incident. Dhirendra Singh fired in self-defence.”

Dhirendra Pratap Singh, the BJP leader, opened fire after the sub-divisional magistrate decided not to go ahead with the meeting due to a dispute between two groups, according to News18. The bullet hit 46-year-old Jai Prakash, PTI reported. The meeting was called to discuss the allotment of ration shops in Durjanpur village of Ballia’s Reoti area. It was held in a tent and administrative officials and residents were also present.

Singh claimed that had the accused not opened fire, dozens of his family members would have been killed. “People who opened fire should be punished but at the same time those who attacked with sticks and rods should also be punished,” he told News18.

The police have detained five people and arrested the brother of the main accused, according to News18. A video of the incident, shared on social media, showed people running around a field in panic as three shots were heard.

Singh said that the accused is the head of the party’s ex-servicemen’s unit in Ballia. “This is a casualty that can happen anywhere,” he had said earlier in the day. “In this incident, there was stone-pelting from both sides. The law will take its own course in the matter.”

Ballia Superintendent of Police Devendra Nath told PTI that officials were deployed in the village to maintain law and order.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath, meanwhile, suspended the personnel and officials present at the meeting. “Taking a serious note of the incident, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath directed that the SDM, CO [circle officer] and all police personnel present at the spot be suspended immediately and strictest action taken against the accused,” Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Awasthi was quoted as saying by PTI.

The incident sparked a political blame game in the state. The Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party hit out at the UP government over the law and order situation. “The people in power are defying authorities openly,” the party tweeted. “A horrific incident that defied law and order in Ballia has come to light where a BJP leader shot and killed a young man Jai Prakash Pal in front of SDM and CO. The BJP leader also escaped after being shot in front of the police.”

Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party leader Om Prakash Rajbhar also criticised the Adityanath government for the incident. “BJP leaders are killing people in the open,” he tweeted. “The fear of the law and administration has ended in UP.