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  • Voltaire Staff

After 8 months, India sets free pigeon held on suspicion of spying for China

A pigeon held in custody for eight months was set free by Indian authorities following a police investigation that absolved it of any suspicion of being a covert agent for China.

The bird, released on Tuesday, had been apprehended at a Mumbai port in May. It had rings on its legs bearing a resemblance to Chinese characters, Associated Press reported.

The pigeon was caught at Pir Pau Jetty in suburban Chembur by the RCF Police. Upon suspicion of being employed for espionage, the pigeon was transported to the Bai Sakarbai Dinshaw Petit Hospital for Animals.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said on Thursday that its Indian branch played a key role in securing the release of the pigeon.

"The group discovered that in May 2023, the police had discovered the pigeon with an indecipherable message written on her wings," PETA said in a release.

The animal rights body said it reached out to the police and successfully obtained a certificate for the bird's release.

According to AP, the pigeon in question was a racing bird from Taiwan but had escaped and flown to India.

A spokesperson from the Taiwan Pigeon Racing Association informed the Taipei-based daily, Taiwan News, that although the bird may have indeed travelled from the island to India, its status as a racing bird remains uncertain as police did not disclose its serial number.

Following examination by veterinarians, the Bombay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals took custody of the pigeon and subsequently released it, AP reported.

"Like all birds, pigeons should be free to soar in the skies, forage for food, and raise their young as a couple, cooperatively with their mates," said PETA India Director Poorva Joshipura.

She added "PETA India is grateful to the veterinary hospital for caring for this pigeon for so many months and working to get her on her way back home."

Indian authorities have in the past too apprehended pigeons under similar suspicions.

In 2016, a pigeon was detained in Kashmir for carrying a note that issued a threat to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In 2015, another pigeon was captured along the India-Pakistan border, subjected to X-rays, and found with a note in Urdu stamped on its feathers.


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