Minister for Home K.J. George on Monday said the government had decided to set up a special investigation team (SIT) to probe cases of extortion being reported along the State border.
He was presiding over a meeting attended by Ministers from coastal districts, such as Vinay Kumar Sorake, U.T. Khader and Abhay Chandra Jain, and legislators from Malnad region.
For the last decade, two major operators have been making extortion calls to businessmen in the coastal regions. In the wake of rising prices of arecanut, the operators were making calls to even arecanut growers and businessmen in Shimoga and Uttara Kannada districts, he said. Besides, the number of such operators was growing every day, Mr. George said.
Speaking to presspersons, he said these operators were using Voice-over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to make calls, making it difficult to track them.
The SIT would coordinate with Interpol and track such VoIP calls to trace criminals hiding across the border. These callers had their own network and gang members in coastal and Malnad districts to collect the ransom, Mr. George said.
He said the government would direct the SIT to crack down on these gangs. In future, if any one receives a call for ransom, if they lodge a complaint with the police, the SIT will take over the investigation, he said.
Mr. George said the details of the SIT structure would be announced soon.