A youth in Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut allegedly forced a cracker into a three-year-old girl’s mouth and lit it, leaving her with serious injuries. The incident took place on Tuesday, reports said. The girl is being treated at a local hospital and is in critical condition. She needed 50 stitches and has contracted a throat infection.

The police on Wednesday said they have launched a search for the accused, whom the girl’s father identified as Harpal, a youth from the village. “We are trying to ascertain if it indeed was a joke or there was a well-planned conspiracy to murder the girl,’’ an unidentified police official told Deccan Herald.

Prashant Kapil, the officer in charge of the police station, said they were investigating the case based on the father’s complaint, Live Hindustan reported.