Bhubaneswar: Pigeons are being smuggled into Odisha from West Bengal for religious ritual sacrifices. This is what revealed the accused who was arrested with over 500 pigeons from Howrah-Jagdalpur Samaleswari Express at Bolagir railway station.

The accused Nanda Kishore Durga(70) and his son Dhaniram Durga(40) of Tambachoda village of Kalahandi district have confessed that they had bought the birds from Ulberia market in West Bengal. They were going to sell the pigeons in Chhatar Jatra of Goddess Manikeswar, the reigning deity of Kalahandi during Dusshera. People used to sacrifice pigeons or kabootarbaaz during the Dusshera as a ritual, they have told the forest officials probing the avian smuggling case.

The Bolangir Divisional Forest Officer , Sameer Satapathy, said that the two accused have been booked under Section 51 of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and were produced in a local court. He said the investigation into the case is going on.

Meanwhile, the forest officials found it difficult to release the birds into the nature as many of the pigeons are unable to fly due to fatigue. Veterinarians opined that the birds were stuffed into cartoons for three days and their wings were fixed with safety pins and and rubber bands.