The Jammu and Kashmir Criminal Investigation Department is looking into the possibility that 153 pigeons found being smuggled in the Valley were being used for espionage. On October 5, three men were found carrying the birds in boxes in Jammu, ANI had reported. They were charged under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. The birds were allegedly being smuggled from the Punjab border to parts of the Valley, which has been marred by violence and protests since the killing of Hizbul militant Burhan Wani.

Officials became suspicious after different-coloured markings were found on the birds. The Deputy Commissioner of Jammu told PTI, “The CID is examining the purpose of special colour applied to the pigeons and whether they were any colour code. We want to be fully sure before the pigeons are released”. Besides the colour-coded markings, some of the pigeons also had magnetic rings attached to them.

According to PTI, authorities earlier received information that terrorists in the region may use “unconventional means” to target areas. The investigation comes after the Border Security Force had caught a pigeon that was carrying a note in Urdu. The note had said, “Modi Ji we are not the same as were in 71 — Jaish-e-Mohammad”.

The pigeons are currently being looked after by an NGO, Save Animals Value Environment or SAVE. They will be released after the investigation.

Hostilities between India and Pakistan have worsened since the the September 18 attack on an Indian Army base in Jammu and Kashmir's Uri sector. While India believes Pakistan was involved in the attack, Islamabad maintains that there is no evidence to support the accusation. The Indian Army announced on Thursday, September 29, that it carried out "surgical strikes against terror launchpads" in along the LoC.

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