Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has ordered a probe by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into the extortion threats received by at least 12 MLAs, most of them belonging to the ruling BJP.
According to reports, 12 MLAs have received phone calls and WhatsApp messages threatening them of dire consequences if they did not shell out Rs 10 lakh.
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), Anita Rajput (Debai in Bulandshahr) are among those who have received threats calls.
The extortion threats were issued in the name of a gangster who once worked with fugitive underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, who is believed to be hiding in Pakistan, said reports.
Taking cognizance of the matter, state's Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had directed the Uttar Pradesh Police to constitute a SIT to investigate the matter.
Adityanath also directed the Special Task Force (STF) and the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) to act swiftly in this regard.
"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 was quoted as saying by PTI.
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.
During a briefing, ADG (Law and Order) Anand Kumar said that a journalist in Bhopal and some other people in Delhi and Rajasthan had also got similar messages in the recent past.
''The SIT has been constituted under the STF Inspector General and includes Additional SP of the ATS,'' Kumar said.
However, he added that "prima facie, it appears to be a planned conspiracy to create panic."
"These calls have been made from a land-line number registered in Texas (US) which perhaps has a WhatsApp facility," he said.
The UP Police have obtained the IP address which was used to send threatening messages to the MLAs, he informed.
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. The gangster in question once worked with Dawood Ibrahim but the two later fell out, he added.
"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 caller identified himself as Ali Budesh Bhai from Dubai.
(With PTI inputs)