A pink-painted pigeon allegedly carrying a ‘coded message’ attached to its foot was captured and turned to police authorities in India on suspicion that it is a spy. Reports indicate that this is not the first time birds have been used for espionage in the disputed area in the past.
In 2013, Indian security forces uncover a dead falcon fitted with a small camera, and in 2010 another pigeon was detained over spying fears.
The bird was reported to have flown into the home of Geeta Devi, a resident of the Kathua district of Indian-administered Kashmir on Sunday night.
The bird had flown from across the border that separates Indian and Pakistan-controlled parts of Kashmir before the suspicious villagers living close to the border in Manyari turned the pigeon over to authorities after catching it along the border.
Kathua police’s senior superintendent Shailendra Mishra said: “We don’t know where the bird has come from. Locals on our side captured it near our fence. Though birds have no boundaries and many fly across international borders during migration, a coded ring tagged to the captured pigeon’s body is a cause of concern as migratory birds have no such rings”.
Police logged the animal as a “Pak Suspected Spy” and started an investigation to decode the message.
Afterward, a Pakistani villager, Habibullah, who lives just 4km (2.5 miles) from the border, asked Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to return his pigeon, currently being held in India on charges of spying. He claimed he flew his pigeons to celebrate Eid festival.
In 2016, the Indian police arrested a pigeon that was found carrying a warning note to Prime Minister Narendra Modi near the nation’s heavily militarized border with Pakistan.