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    Pigeons or ‘Kabootars’ as referred in English and Hindi language respectively, have had a long history of human contact. Both in war and peace time and as the civilization kept unfolding. They have made contributions of considerable importance to humanity, especially in times of war. And, quite admirably, during war times, the homing ability of pigeons have been put to use by making them messengers. To carry important messages. During peace time they have contributed royally in sports. By participating in the ever royal game of Kabootarbazi. Generally enjoyed by pigeon fanciers. The so-called war pigeons have also been decorated for their services with medals such as the Croix de guerre.

    While pigeons are good at carrying out orders. They also risk their lives unknowingly. And it’ll be a bit of a news, when one hears, that even today security forces keep a hawk’s eye on them. Says the column below:


    You might think birds are free to fly; but there’s the security risk…


    Indian security forces must be commended for spotting a single pigeon flying suspiciously off Gujarat’s coastline. Not dismissing it as just a seagull in mufti or even a hopelessly off-course pied harrier. That alert guards managed to apprehend the flying object is a further feather in their collective cap. After all, this is not the first time that pigeons have been in the thick of clandestine activities. Though they have not been used seriously for surveillance, espionage and message-running since World War II, considering a similar questionable bird was nabbed in Punjab in 2010, investigators should not deem it a mere coincidence. Back then, police had seized an empty ring around its claw and noted a Pakistani telephone number and address stamped in red ink on its body. As this latest pigeon also had puzzling appendages and markings, a wider probe to net any other accomplices, unwitting or otherwise, is surely warranted.

Interrogation and debriefing of this suspect would be difficult- as was the case in Punjab- so the only option is to keep an eagle eye out for possible undercover avians in the future, especially in this era of spy drones. The authorities should also keep a close watch on all pigeons around sensitive government buildings, given the nationwide preponderance of the bird and its ability to blend in.


By Kamlesh Tripathi


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