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Indian Authorities Arrested A Pigeon Accused Of Spying For Pakistan

There's no determination yet on whether or not there's any actual fowl play at hand.

Posted on May 29, 2015, at 1:40 p.m. ET

Indian authorities on Thursday arrested a pigeon. This isn't slang or jargon: it was an actual feathered pigeon. In this case, the bird in question — and now under questioning — is suspected of being a spy for neighboring Pakistan.

Prakash Singh / AFP / Getty Images

Pictured here: spies, probably.

According to the Indian Express, the suspect was apprehended "by villagers in the Bamial sector of Pathankot district [in Punjab state], which is just a few kilometres away from the Pakistan border."

Narinder Nanu / AFP / Getty Images

The pigeon, whose comrades in espionage are seen here, was captured for reportedly having some sort of markings stamped on its body. Exactly what those markings were is unclear: in one telling it had a Pakistani phone number; in another, it had "'Shakargarh' [Shakargarh Tehsil is apparently a sub-divison of Narowal district in Pakistan’s Punjab province close to the border] and 'Narowal' written on its body in English, along with some numbers and words in Urdu."

It may also have had a wire of some kind attached to its body, according to some reports.

But authorities are taking the matter of this alleged avian agent of espionage seriously, according to the Times of India, which reports that the bird was taken in for x-rays that yielded little information.

Sam Panthaky / AFP / Getty Images

"Nothing adverse has been found, but we have kept the bird in our custody," Pathankot senior superintendent of police (SSP) Rakesh Kaushal told the Times.

"This is a rare instance of a bird from Pakistan being spotted here. We have caught a few spies here. The area is sensitive, given its proximity to Jammu, where infiltration is quite common," Kaushal continued.

But India isn't alone in being suspicious of animals working for their neighbors. China inspected thousands of pigeons for bombs last year. And Wikipedia has a whole page devoted to "Israel-related animal conspiracy theories."

Noah Seelam / AFP / Getty Images

There's hope for this possibly Pakistani pigeon though: in 2010, another suspected "spy pigeon" was exonerated and released to Indian wildlife authorities.

In this specific case, it remains to be seen whether this jailbird will turn stool pigeon and eventually fly the coop or whether it's consigned to spend the rest of its days pecking out a meager existence behind bars.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.