Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh police on Wednesday constituted a special investigation team to probe phone messages to 12 MLAs that threatened death to their family members if they did not shell out ₹10lakh.
As per police, the extortion threats were issued in the name of a gangster who once worked with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.
The SIT team was set up after directions to top officials from UP CM Yogi Adityanath who took strong note of the threats.
Adityanath directed the special task force and the anti-terrorist squad to act, a news agency reported.
“The CM sought details of the matter from ADG (Law and Order) and asked him to deploy STF and ATS teams to work out the case and take stern action against the guilty,” an official spokesman said here.
The MLAs, most of whom are from the ruling BJP, have complained that they got text and WhatsApp messages asking them to pay ₹10 lakh or their families will be eliminated within three days.
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 STF Inspector General and includes Additional SP of the ATS, 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 (US) 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.
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).
ADG Kumar said the messages are being issued in the name of a gangster who had issued such threats to film personalities in the 1990s.
He was once with Dawood Ibrahim, a fugitive now based in Pakistan, but the two later fell out, the official said.