‘Chinese spy’ pigeon released from Mumbai ‘jail’ after PETA intervention

Mumbai, Feb 1 : A pigeon held captive for eight months on alleged charges of being a ‘Chinese spy’, was finally released and took flight after intervention by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, activists said here on Thursday.

The pigeon was caught near the Pir Pau Jetty in Chembur in May 2023 by the RCF Police Station after they found a message on the bird’s wings in illegible letters, suspected to be a Chinese language.

The bird had two rings of copper and aluminium attached to its legs, with the message written in Chinese-style lettering.

Suspecting the pigeon to be a ‘spy’ it was sent to the Bai Sakarbai Dinshaw Petit Hospital for Animals (BSDPHA) in Parel as ‘case property’ in the investigations.

It underwent a medical checkup and then was ‘jailed’ in a separate cage there.

The police probe finally revealed that it was probably a racing pigeon from Taiwan and in one such race, it strayed from the path to reach Mumbai, where it was caught. The case was shut, but the ‘reluctant spy’ was forgotten and remained in the caged confines of the BSDPHA for months till they recently reminded the police, saying the pigeon was still in custody.

The hospital said that the bird was perfectly healthy, but was unnecessarily holding up a cage, and sought the RCF Police Station’s permission to release it back into the skies, but did not get a proper response.

When PETA’s Saloni Sakaria learnt of this strange tale, she jumped into action to secure the bird’s freedom, contacted the RCF Police Station officials and urged them to immediately grant permission for releasing the bird from its cage in BSDPHA.

After some persuasion, the police finally conceded to let go off their prized feathered ‘catch’ and granted a NOC to the BSDPHA to release the bird. After completing the formalities, the pigeon was finally set free to soar the skies on Wednesday, on the hospital premises by the BSDPHA Chief Medical Superintendent, Colonel (Retd) Dr BB Kulkarni, amidst claps and cheers by the small gathering of animal lovers.

“We at PETA India express our gratitude to the BSDPHA for taking care of the bird for so many months,” said Sakaria. She also lauded the RCF Police Station for acceding to PETA’s request promptly and granting permission to the BSDPHA that helped set the poor bird free.

The PETA has also referred to certain cases of Gujarat High Court and Delhi High Court which have upheld the fundamental rights of birds to live free in the open sky and said they should not be cages for business or any other purposes.