No one in India bothers to talk about the R&AW, either because it is too good at keeping its affairs secret or because it is yet to do anything significant, but when a certain section of the Indian media starts cooing about India’s external spy agency, it revolves around the flight of a pigeon.
A pigeon was arrested by Indian authorities in Pathankot in the last days of May on charges of spying for Pakistan. The authorities came to their conclusion from an illegible Urdu message on one of its wings though the words ‘Tehsil Shankargarh’ was clearly visible in English.
It is funny, no doubt, and Pakistanis took this opportunity to mock at India’s over-paranoid security establishment using #PigeonVsIndia:
What a PIGEON is arrested for crossing border???Are you kidding me….BUAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! #PigeonVsIndia
They were extensively used in World War I and a pigeon named Cher Ami was awarded one of the highest military decorations of France for carrying a crucial message that helped save the lives of many soldiers.
Pigeons are still very much in use in the third world and conflict-ridden countries where they are used for anything from drug supply to ransom collection.
And do you know that while you were enjoying the humiliation of India’s security agencies, the Indian Coast Guard caught a pigeon in a port area of Gujarat’s Jamnagar district? That pigeon was fitted with a transmitter.
This is exactly why we should not start jeering at the very idea of using a pigeon for spying. Yes, there may have been an unwarranted drama over a bird in the Pathankot case, but this does not mean that pigeons cannot be used for spying.