Suspected Espionage Pigeon Released After Eight Months

An Indian news outlet reported recently that after eight months of custody, the Indian police finally freed a pigeon that had been accused of being a Chinese spy.

The pigeon’s harrowing journey started last May when it was apprehended near a Mumbai port while bound by two rings that seemed to have Chinese characters. It was impossible to read the words written on the bird’s wings. The authorities thought someone was using it to spy on them.

The police took up the animal on suspicion of espionage and then sent it to the Bai Sakarbai Dinshaw Petit Hospital for Animals in Mumbai.

Spies and the military have long made use of pigeons. In fact, the birds were extensively used during both World Wars.

U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia reports that China apparently maintains a covert military unit at the Guilin Joint Logistics Support Center in Kunming, even though the practice has been less common in the current period.

According to a report, in the end, it was determined that the pigeon had escaped from Taiwan and was really an open-water racing bird that had landed in India. The bird was taken to the Bombay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PETA) with the approval of the police, and early in February, its veterinarians released it into the wild.

Birds have previously been the objects of suspicion in India.

A pigeon that had flown over the strongly fortified border between nuclear-armed countries India and Pakistan was freed by authorities in Indian-controlled Kashmir in 2020 after an investigation determined that the bird belonged to a Pakistani fisherman and wasn’t a spy.

According to reports, in 2016, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was threatened by a message discovered in the possession of another pigeon, which led to its arrest.