Viewpoint: How India deals with the scourge of 'terrorist pigeons'
BBC 10 October 2016
The arrested pigeon had a threatening note attached PTI
Last week, Indian police said they had arrested a pigeon carrying an abusive note from Pakistan. Indian author Shovon Chowdhury explains the bizarre turn of events - from a satirist's point of view.
I blame my mobile service provider for the pigeons. They haven't been providing much service. In our house in Delhi, we can only make calls if we stick the phone out of a particular bedroom window, and hold it just so.
We're not the only ones. On Sunday mornings, it's quite common to see many of our neighbours out in the street trying to make phone calls. It's quite sweet. We nod and smile at each other. In a world that is becoming increasingly inhuman, we are being brought closer.
This helps to explain why some patriotic Pakistanis attached a message for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a pigeon, and sent it across the disputed border. It must be because they couldn't get through on the phone.
"Modi, we're not the same people from 1971," said the message, "Now each and every child is ready to fight against India."
It seems like they did not think things through.
Tensions between India and Pakistan are quite high at the moment, and many such messages are being exchanged.
Revenge is being sworn. Befitting replies are being provided. Diplomats are digging deep into their vocabularies. Nuclear weapons are being mentioned from time to time.
This last bit is a little worrying, because Delhi and Lahore are so close that if you nuked one of them, millions would die in the other. It's like projectile vomiting on the man standing right next to you.
But there are far better ways the Pakistan side could have conveyed their message.
Indian police say they took a pigeon into custody PTI
The best thing to do would have been to appear on one of our English news channels, where war was declared approximately two weeks ago.
One of the anchors has appeared on his show in combat gear. Another appears to have several seizures every evening, unable to digest all the treachery. His anger is monumental. His suit swells up. His hair ripples menacingly. His eyes flash fire.
The nation is watching with bated breath, because this can only end in one of two ways. Either he will be the first person in history to explode on live TV, or, unable to bear it any more, he will leap over his desk, pick up an assault rifle, and command his chauffeur to drive him to Islamabad.
Pakistan's pigeon fanciers should have realised that this, not pigeon carriers, would have been the logical medium for their hate message. Pakistan required their services. In this forum, their side is losing.
Every one of these shows features token Pakistanis, usually retired military officers, who are torn limb from limb. They might be hoping to win the war, but meanwhile, they're losing the TV shows.
If the pigeon fanciers had to send messages on behalf of Pakistan, this is where they were most needed.
Instead, they deployed "terrorist" pigeons. It's important to note that there were two pigeons, not one, which means they're attacking us in waves. They have penetrated deeply.
Both "attacks" were very close to the capital of Punjab, Amritsar, where men are men and the butter flows freely. The terrorists have clearly taken a long-term approach.
Their methodology is evolving. Initial attempts to send abusive messages were made with balloons. Subsequently a pigeon was apprehended with things written in Urdu on its feathers.
Once the pigeon's message was translated, the message turned out to be the names of the days of the week.
It was hard to draw any conclusions from this, except that the jihadis were running out of paper. By the time of the second attack, the terrorists had found paper, which they used to write a message.
This was detected on the infiltrator's leg. The pigeon has been apprehended by the Punjab police, and logged in as a "suspected spy" in the official police diary. It is currently being held in an air-conditioned room, under heavy police guard.
Pathankot police office Rakesh Kumar has told AFP news agency that the police are "investigating the matter very seriously".
"We have caught a few spies here. The area is sensitive, given its proximity to Jammu, where infiltration is quite common."
Pigeons have a rich history as spies, it seems Getty Images
Luckily, the police in India have plenty of experience with wildlife.
When the buffaloes of a prominent politician in northern Uttar Pradesh were kidnapped recently, by people with some kind of death wish, over 100 policemen and two superintendents of police were deployed.
They recovered the buffaloes within a week, although questions have been raised regarding the identities of some of them. Some amount of buffalo substitution cannot be ruled out, but on the whole, the case was wrapped up well.
Hence, we have reason to hope that they will successfully combat the jihadi pigeon menace too. Currently, they are leaving no stone unturned.
According to sources, they are considering a variety of questions, such as:
Is the pigeon Hindu or Muslim?
Was beef involved in any way?
If the pigeon receives bail, will it attempt to influence witnesses?
Did it receive any assistance from Indian pigeons?
Should we be involving the air force?
Who's going to pay for all the food that it's eating?
Meanwhile, we will continue to respect our security forces, because otherwise they might shoot us. But we should also spare a thought for the pigeons. These innocent creatures, once a symbol of peace, are now being indoctrinated by jihadis.
How soon before sleeper cells within India begin doing the same? Tomorrow, as we walk in our neighbourhood park, enjoying the breeze and trying to make phone calls, how will we know which pigeons we can trust?
How do we distinguish the good pigeons from those who are supporting Pakistan? They all look the same.
And before all of you who live in London and New York start mocking us, you need to remember one thing. You have pigeons too.