Lucknow: A special investigation team has been set up to probe into the extortion threats received by about 12 Uttar Pradesh MLAs, a police official said.
The threats were issued in the name of a gangster who once worked with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, the police said.
The MLAs, most of whom are 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. 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. 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 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. "In 1998, he shifted to Bahrain and was carrying out his operations from there. In the past 10 years, there has been no report of his activities in India but he is on the radar of the intelligence agencies," Anand said.
In all the messages, the sender has given out his name as Ali Budesh Bhai from Dubai. PTI