Owner rejects Indian claim of ‘spy’ pigeon’s capture

Updated May 27 2020

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Yes, this is my pet pigeon as it can never be a spy or a terrorist," says Habibullah. — NDTV/File
Yes, this is my pet pigeon as it can never be a spy or a terrorist," says Habibullah. — NDTV/File

SIALKOT: After the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) claimed they had captured another “Pakistani spy pigeon”, a Pakistani villager refuted the allegation, saying he is the owner of the pigeon.

Habibullah, a resident of Bagga-Shakargarh village, situated along the Sialkot Working Boundary, said he was the owner of this pigeon recently “arrested” by India.

He said the second pigeon of the pair was with him. “Yes, this is my pet pigeon as it can never be a spy or a terrorist,” he said.

On Monday, Indian news outlets reported that a pigeon “with a prominent pink patch and a tag on its leg” was logged at a police station as a “suspected Pakistani spy”. The reports said the pigeon was suspected of being part of an “espionage attempt from Pakistan” and that an investigation has been launched into the matter.

According to the reports, police records showed the pigeon flew into the house of a woman in the Chadwal area, who caught it and handed it over to the BSF. The latter then handed it over to police for further investigation.

Police quoted the woman as saying the pigeon had a ring around its foot that had numbers inscribed on it.

However, Habibullah said he had a passion for pigeons and owned a dozen. He said that on Eid he flew several pigeons to celebrate the occasion in his village.

He said his village was about 4km from Indian territory, adding that he had fixed rings around the feet of his pigeons. The villager said he had specially gotten his mobile number inscribed on the rings.

He said the pigeon was an innocent pet bird and was a symbol of peace, love and tolerance.

Habibullah said displaying mental aggression, the Indians had declared his pigeon a Pakistani spy.

The villager urged Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to return the pigeon to Pakistan with “full protocol and due respect”. He said India should avoid such blame games and refrain from victimising innocent birds. He also urged the world to take notice of India’s “highhandedness”.

Meanwhile, residents of Bagga protested against the arrest of the pet and raised slogans against New Delhi.

This is not the first time a pigeon has been accused of spying on India for Pakistan. In 2015, a pigeon was captured by Indian forces for crossing over into India.

Published in Dawn, May 27th, 2020