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.”

Pakistan PM Khan slams ‘oppressor’ India on Kashmir anniversary

Updated 05 August 2020

Pakistan PM Khan slams ‘oppressor’ India on Kashmir anniversary

  • Solidarity marches were held in all major Pakistani cities to mark the anniversary of New Delhi stripping Muslim-majority Indian Kashmir of its semi-autonomous status
  • Kashmir, a disputed Himalayan territory, has been split since 1947 between India and Pakistan, both of which claim it in full and have fought wars over it

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan branded India an “oppressor and aggressor” on Wednesday, a year after New Delhi imposed direct rule on Indian-administered Kashmir.
Solidarity marches were held in all major Pakistani cities to mark the anniversary of New Delhi stripping Muslim-majority Indian Kashmir of its semi-autonomous status, a move that outraged Islamabad.
Kashmir, a disputed Himalayan territory, has been split since 1947 between India and Pakistan, both of which claim it in full and have fought wars over it.
“India stands exposed before the world, yet again, as an oppressor and aggressor,” Khan said in a statement.
“Its so-called secular and democratic credentials stand fully discredited,” he added, calling India’s action last year a “crime against humanity.”
Khan led a march through Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered-Kashmir, before addressing the region’s legislative assembly.
Across the city, more than 2,000 people turned out at a series of anti-India protests.
“We ask the world to give Kashmiris their right of self-determination, otherwise we will cross the Line of Control and help our brothers on the other side with arms,,” Arslan Ahmad, a refugee who fled Indian-administered Kashmir, told AFP.
“Half of my family is under siege in Indian-occupied Kashmir, my mother is dying to meet her sister, this dispute has left our generations torn apart,” 31-year old Usman Mir added.
Police were enforcing tight restrictions in Indian-administered Kashmir on Wednesday, where religious and political groups had called on residents to observe a “black day.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government had promised the move would bring peace and prosperity to Indian Kashmir after three decades of violence sparked by an anti-India uprising.
Pakistan, however, has alleged it is a violation of the rights of Kashmiri people.
Khan accused India of trying to turn Kashmir’s Muslim majority into a minority by ending restrictions on outsiders buying up property “in blatant violation of... UN Security Council Resolutions and international laws.”
The change in rules has sparked fears that the Modi government is pursuing an Israel-style “settler” project.
A referendum in Kashmir mandated by a UN resolution in 1948 has never taken place.
“India has learned from Israel how to change the demography (of Kashmir),” President Arif Alvi told a rally in the Pakistani capital Islamabad, which observed a one-minute silence.
Hundreds of billboards and banners displayed graphic images purportedly of human rights violations by Indian authorities in Kashmir.
On Tuesday, Pakistan released a new official map showing all of Kashmir as its territory.
The Pakistan military, meanwhile, said Indian troops had fired a shell across the de-facto border, killing a young woman and wounding six other people.
Such exchanges are common along the Kashmir demarcation line, with shells blasted in both directions.