1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

India frees pigeon accused of spying for China

February 2, 2024

India has released a pigeon initially suspected of espionage for China, concluding an eight-month investigation. The bird, from Taiwan, was part of an open-water racing competition.

A pigeon in India.
The pigeon was held at a hospital in Mumbai.Image: Tauseef Mustafa/AFP/Getty Images

Indian police released a pigeon after eight months in custody, as it was finally cleared of charges of being a suspected Chinese spy.

The bird was caught at Pir Pau Jetty in the Mumbai suburb of Chemburin. It had two rings tied to its leg with "messages written in a Chinese-like script" on its wings, Indian daily newspaper Times of India reported.

Police took in the pigeon, later sending it to Mumbai's Bai Sakarbai Dinshaw Petit Hospital for Animals.

Pigeon race bird from Taiwan

A case of spying was registered against the bird, but later dropped upon completion of the inquiry. 

Police found out that it was an open-water racing bird from Taiwan that had escaped and made its way to India. 

A representative from the non-profit organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) got in touch with the police asking for the release of the pigeon.

The bird was transferred from the hospital to the Bombay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, whose doctors set it free on Tuesday.

This is not the first time Indian police have suspected a bird of espionage. Kashmir police had captured a pigeon suspected of spying in 2020, which had flown across the heavily-militarized border between India and Pakistan. The bird was later released. 

In 2016, another pigeon was taken into custody after it was found with a note that threatened Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

tg/rt (AFP, AP)