Lucknow: In perhaps the first-of-its-kind case in Uttar Pradesh, probe agencies on Sunday said they have detected transactions of over Rs 8 lakh in a crypto-currency (bitcoin) account, that was mentioned in the alleged extortion messages received by 22 MLAs of the state recently.
The state lawmakers, most of them from the ruling BJP, recently claimed to have received text or WhatsApp messages asking them to pay Rs 10 lakh in bitcoin otherwise their families will be eliminated.
"During the probe, a crypto-currency (bitcoin) account, mentioned in the threat messages to legislators, has been detected. Transactions of 1.60368338 bitcoins (Rs 8.16 lakh) were done in this account. And the entire amount was later transferred to some other account," STF sources said.
"A total of six transactions, between 6.46 PM on May 2 and 4 AM on May 18, were done in the crypto-currency e-wallet during which bitcoin was received and sent through different e-wallets. One transaction each was done on May 2, 3, 4, and 18 and two transactions on May 17," they said.
The matter came to the fore when the MLAs complained about receiving threat messages asking them to pay Rs 10 lakh through bitcoins, they said. The sources said probe agencies are investigating as to who did all these transactions.
After Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath took note, an SIT was constituted on May 23 to probe the high-profile matter. The state police is suspecting the handiwork of "professional hackers" behind this to create panic and has issued an advisory to the people not to be scared.
"An advisory has been issued across the state asking all not to get panicked over such messages," DIG (Law and Order) Pravin Kumar said.
"Prima facie, it appears to be the handiwork of some mischief makers," he said, adding that the SIT constituted to go into the matter was already working on it.
In all the messages, the sender has given out his name as Ali Budesh Bhai from Dubai, a reference to a gangster once linked to the now Pakistan-based Dawood Ibrahim.
The MLAs who got the messages 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), Dhirendra Bahadur Singh (Sareni-Raebareli).
The opposition had also attacked the Adityanath government over the issue. "No one is secure under the present regime. The MLAs are being threatened of dire consequences," Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav had said.
"There is no law and order in the state." Congress spokesman Arun Prakash levelled similar charges, saying the threats to legislators "expose the tall claims of the BJP government"....