As many as 12 MLAs of the ruling BJP in Uttar Pradesh have received extortion threats in the last few days through text (SMS) and WhatsApp messages from an international number, demanding Rs 10 lakh, failing which "their family members will be killed".
The MLAs from the ruling BJP have complained that they got text and WhatsApp messages asking them to pay Rs 10 lakh or their families will be eliminated within three days.
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The MLAs include Veer Vikram Singh (Meeranpur Katra in Shahjahanpur), Manvendra Singh (Dadraul in Shahjahanpur), Prem Prakash Pandey (Tarabganj in Gonda), Vinay Kumar Dwivedi (Mehnam in Gonda), Vinod Katiyar (Bhognipur in Kanpur), Shahshank Trivedi (Mahauli in Sitapur) and Anita Rajput (Debai in Bulandshahr).
Taking note of the threat, Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath has set up a three-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by Amitabh Yash, the Inspector General of the Special Task Force to trace the caller, who has identified himself as Ali Budesh Bhai.
The messages are coming from a man named Ali Budesh Bhai, who according to the police, is a notorious extortionist.
ADG (Law and Order) Anand Kumar said there were reports that a journalist in Bhopal and some people in Delhi and Rajasthan had also got similar messages. The SIT has been constituted under the Special Task Force Inspector General and includes Additional Superintendent of Police of the Anti-Terrorist Squad, he said.
"Prima facie, it appears to be a planned conspiracy to create panic," he said. "These calls have been made from a landline number registered in Texas (United States) which perhaps has a WhatsApp facility," he added. He said the police had obtained the IP address being used for sending out messages to the MLAs.
ADG Anand Kumar said the messages are being issued in the name of a gangster who issued such threats to some film personalities in the 1990s. He was once with Dawood Ibrahim, a fugitive now based in Pakistan, but the two had later fallen out, the official said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma assured that the culprits would not be spared.
"Today, there is fear of law among criminals and they are even leaving the state now. These may be possible attempts by them to spread fear among people. The culprits found responsible for these acts will not be spared," he said.