Death threats to Bhatt family: UP Police nab one suspect

Mumbai: The Uttar Pradesh Police have arrested one person, who is suspected to have issued death threats to veteran filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt and his family members on WhatsApp, police sources here said on Thursday.

The development came earlier in the day, barely hours after Bhatt lodged at the Juhu police station a complaint of extortion-cum-death threat against himself, wife Soni and actress daughter Alia from an “unknown person” on Wednesday night.

Mumbai police’s Anti-Extortion Cell contacted the Uttar Pradesh Police Special Task Force (STF) which swung into action and zeroed in on the suspect — identified as one Sandeep Sahu.

A Mumbai Police team is expected to go to Uttar Pradesh shortly to take custody of the accused on a transit remand and bring him to Mumbai for further investigations, the sources here said.

According to the 69-year-old Bhatt, the caller allegedly demanded Rs 50 lakh, failing which he would eliminate his wife British-born wife Soni (60) and and daughter Alia (24).

Later, Bhatt tweeted: “A bolt from the blue in the form of an extortion call and threat to my family was nipped in the bud by the Maharashtra and UP Police in tandem. Gratitude!”

Bhatt said he had first received the call on February 26, but dismissed it as an innocuous prank initially.

However, the phone call was followed up with a series of WhatsApp messages and SMSs from a purported gangster who demanded that Bhatt should deposit the money in a Lucknow bank branch, failing which, it would lead to firing on the filmmaker’s wife and daughter.

Perturbed by the messages, Bhatt lodged the police complaint on Wednesday.

Earlier, Bhatt had been targeted by a gang of 13 who conspired to kill him but were arrested in November 2014 before they could carry out their plans.