Earlier this week police in India arrested a pigeon which they accused of spying for Pakistan.
A 14-year-old boy blew the spy bird’s cover in a sensitive area along the India-Pakistan border, and the bird was taken into custody on Thursday. The pigeon has so far refused to confirm its name, and remains in custody.
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India intercepts suspected spy message
Suspicions were raised after a “stamped message” was discovered on the body of the bird, written partly in Urdu, the official language of Pakistan. A Pakistani phone number was also included in the message.
Enthusiastic police, perhaps keen to make a name for themselves, performed an X-ray of the bird in order to determine whether it was carrying anything suspicious, but nothing was discovered. Despite that fact, police have registered the bird as a “suspected spy” and it remains in custody.
“This is a rare instance of a bird from Pakistan being spotted here,” said police superintendent Rakesh Kaushal during an interview with The Times of India. “We have caught a few spies here. The area is sensitive, given its proximity to Jammu, where infiltration is quite common.”
The area is the site of historic tensions between India and Pakistan, and paranoia apparently reigns. However police in the area may be right to be suspicious of the bird. It wouldn’t be the first time that an animal has been involved in spying.
The long relationship between animals and espionage
Iranian authorities displayed similar suspicions of pigeons when they arrested two of the birds in 2008, accusing them of spying on a nuclear facility, while Egyptian police seized a stork in 2013 after seeing a strange device attached to its feathers.
Pigeons considering a visit to China are advised to reconsider their plans following the probing of 10,000 pigeon anuses last year. Officials were worried that they might be carrying bombs.
In fact, animals of all kinds have a long history in spying. One particularly barmy plan by the CIA involved the development of a cyborg cat spy which would record and transmit conversations between Soviet officials. The program cost over $20 million, a lot of money during the 1960s, but was an abject failure.