India releases ‘Pakistani spy’ pigeon

In this file photo, a Pakistani caretaker releases racing pigeons from their cage on the final day of the pigeon race national championship in Islamabad on May 31, 2016. (AFP)
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Updated 30 May 2020

India releases ‘Pakistani spy’ pigeon

  • Indian police not sure if the bird flew back to Pakistan or traveled deep inside their country
  • Pakistani owner of the bird says he is happy his pigeon is no longer being interrogated by Indian authorities

NEW DELHI / KARACHI: The government of the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir freed a pigeon on Thursday, that had been captured by locals on suspicion of being a “Pakistani spy.”

On Monday, villagers in the Manyari area located on the Indian side of the Working Boundary with Pakistan in the Kathua district of Jammu caught the pigeon, that had been painted pink, with a ring on its left leg that had a “coded” number inscribed on it.

“We set the pigeon free on Thursday from the same spot where it was found,” Kathua’s senior police superintendent, Shailendra Mishra, told Arab News on Friday.

“On Monday, the villagers caught a pigeon who had a ring on one of its legs with a number written on it. The villagers found the pigeon suspicious and informed the police. We took the pigeon to a veterinarian, and then set it free,” Mishra added.

He blamed the media for creating over-inflating the story.

“The media created hype by calling it a spy pigeon,” the police chief said. “I don’t know whether the pigeon went back to Pakistan or traveled deep inside India. However, we released it from the same spot where we had found it.”

Local journalist and Manyari resident, Saravjit Shunty, said such incidents were not new.

“The Manyari area is close to the international border and the villagers have a habit of reporting every incident to the Border Security Force. Since the pigeon was colored and it had a suspicious looking ring with a number inscribed on it, the villagers reported the matter to the force after catching the bird,” Shunty explained.

“I informed the local police chief that a video from the Sakkargarh area from across the border had emerged in which a person was claiming to be the owner of the pigeon,” he said. “The police chief then told us that he had verified all the details and the bird would soon be released.

“Such episodes show the paranoia that defines the relationship between India and Pakistan. It’s really funny that a bird which cannot be confined within traditional international boundaries can become an object of suspicion,” Shunty continued.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani owner of the bird, named Habibullah, told Arab News he was happy that his pigeon was no longer in Indian custody.

“I am very excited that my bird has been released by India. But I will be happier once it flies back and I get to see it. I am also thankful to those who spoke up in my favor,” he said.

Habibullah said that he had released the bird on Eid Al-Fitr, hoping that it would fly around a little before returning to its loft.

However, he inscribed his contact number on the ring around the bird’s leg to make sure that it did not go missing.

“When two days went by and the bird did not return, I knew it was captured by someone who did not want to return it to me,” he told Arab News from his village of Bagga-Shakargarh, located on the Working Boundary with India.

He added that his precautionary measure had worked in the past and his pigeons had been returned each time. However, it was shocking for him to discover that his bird was held by Indians on the other side of the border who were “trying to debrief him as a Pakistani spy.”

Commenting on the development, Dr. Hasan Askari, a Lahore-based security analyst, described the Indian claim as “a very childish act of a narrow-minded ideological government.”

“There is an ultra-nationalist government in place in India which is driven by a narrow-minded ideology,” he said. “Such governments manage to find conspiracy theories in everything.”

‘Just shut up, man’ - Biden and Trump trade personal insults in first presidential debate

Updated 35 min 43 sec ago

‘Just shut up, man’ - Biden and Trump trade personal insults in first presidential debate

  • Biden called the president a ‘clown,’ ‘racist,’  and ‘a liar’
  • Trump attacked Biden as a puppet in the hands of the radical left

NEW YORK: It was more of a brawl than a debate. President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden faced off in a series of heated cross-talks and putdowns. 

Each sought to undermine the other’s personality and fitness to lead.

They both denigrated the intelligence of their rival, with Trump repeatedly attacking Biden as a puppet in the hands of the radical left, which he claimed is trying to steal the election. 

Biden called the president a “clown,” “racist,”  and “a liar.”

“I’m not here to call out his lies. Everybody knows he’s a liar,” he said.



The clashes marked a new low in American presidential debates: never, in recent memory, have so many personal insults been exchanged between two candidates on national television. 

The debate was the first chance for voters to compare the candidates side by side as they sparred for 90 minutes. 

Moderator Chris Wallace was left exasperated at times, as he tried to rein the rivals in, get them to observe speaking times, and put a stop to the constant interruptions.

At one point, the Fox News anchor had to raise his voice and ask the president to let his opponent finish his sentence. 

Biden called Trump “the worst president America has ever had,” and he repeatedly told the president to “just shut up, man.”



Biden claimed that more people would die from the coronavirus pandemic unless Trump got “a lot smarter.”

Mocking Biden’s college class rank, Trump said: “Did you use the word ‘smart’? Don’t ever use the word ‘smart’ with me.”

The debate took place at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. With five weeks to go until the election, there were heated clashes over Trump’s handling of the pandemic, the Supreme Court nomination, the future of the nation’s health care, and the integrity of the election. 


Biden blamed the US COVID-19 death toll on Trump. He looked into the camera and asked: “How many of you got up this morning and had an empty chair at the table because someone died of COVID-19?”

“You could never have done the job we’ve done,” Trump responded. “You don’t have it in your blood.”

The two candidates’ families were present, socially distanced and some wearing masks. 

Things became even more heated when the topic of race and law-and-order was breached.

Biden accused Trump of stoking racial divisions.

“He’s just a racist. This is a president who has used everything as a dog whistle to try to generate racial hatred, racial division.”

When asked by the debate moderator if he would denounce white supremacists and paramilitary groups, the president replied: “What do you want me to call them? Give me a name. Give me a name.”


Biden interjected with “Proud Boys,” referring to the far-right violent group. Trump did not condemn the hate group, but said instead “Proud Boys, stand back, stand by.” 

The Proud Boys celebrated online the president’s refusal to denounce white supremacy and the fact that he mentioned them.

They immediately shared a logo emblazoned with the phrase: “stand back and stand by.” 

Biden later tweeted an image of the Proud Boys praising the president’s remarks and wrote: “This is Donald Trump’s America.” 

For its part, Biden’s campaign began selling T-shirts with the phrase: “Shut Up Man.” 


Trump went after the former vice-president’s son Hunter Biden and accused him of profiting in China while his father was vice-president. 

“China ate your lunch, Joe. And no wonder your son goes there and takes out billions of dollars.”

He also accused Hunter Biden of receiving more than $3 million from a Russian billionaire. 

Days after he refused to commit to conceding the election if he loses, Trump repeated that he expected the large number of mail ballots due to the pandemic would result in a massive fraud. 

“This is going to be fraud like you’ve never seen,” Trump said. “We might not know for months because these ballots are going to be all over.” 


Mr Biden looked into the camera and told voters they hold in their own hands the power to vote the president out. “If we get the votes, it’s going to be over. He can’t stay in power.”

The second of the three presidential debates is slated for Oct. 15. 

The first vice-presidential debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris will take place on Oct. 7.