Fake encounter: Indian boy shot dead in police crossfire

Fake encounter: Indian boy shot dead in police crossfire

An eight-year-old boy has been killed in crossfire between police and criminals in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, officials say.

A police spokesperson told the BBC that Madhav Bharadwaj was playing in a field in Mathura when the shootout happened on Wednesday.

He added that it was unclear who fired the shot that killed him.

But villagers told local media that police fired at the men, who did not retaliate and managed to escape.

Four members of police have been suspended in connection with the incident.

"It's unfortunate and tragic that a young life has been lost. We have launched an inquiry into the incident," Rahul Srivatava, chief spokesperson of the police, said.

The state's chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, said he was "deeply saddened" by Madhav's death.

"I have announced financial assistance to Madhav's family and have told officers to take strict action against the culprits," he tweeted.

The state has one of the highest crime rates in India and Mr Adityanath has promised to tackle the problem.

But rights groups say some police officers have been using "encounters" to achieve lower crime rates. The police deny this claim.

Allegations of "fake encounters" - staged confrontations between police and alleged criminals - are common in India and often result in deaths.