For all the millennials out there, what is the first thing you’re reminded of when you think ‘pigeon post’?
Isn’t it Harry Potter and the lanes of Number Four Private Drive where Harry would often receive pigeon mails from his friends and professors?
But do you know we have our own pigeon mail in Odisha created by the Odisha Police? When In 1946 200 pigeons were handed over to the state’s police by the army in order to enable communication in remote areas with no wireless or telephone links. The pigeons were trained from the time they were 6 weeks old. They were taught to identify their routes by marking spots, and once trained, their accuracy in route mapping remained intact for decades.
Thus the Odisha Police Pigeon Service was born. Messages written on a piece of paper were rolled and inserted into tiny plastic capsules and tied to the feet of the pigeons, after which they were let loose to find their way. They became a vital link between remote police stations when traditional communications failed during disasters. In fact, during the catastrophic flood of 1982, the Police Pigeon Service served as the only line of communication to the marooned town of Banki. The pigeons also played a pivotal role during the 1999 Super Cyclone and the ensuing floods when the disruption of radio networks led to a collapse of almost all lines of communication. Even though with the advent of modern communication tools the heritage courier service of Odisha Police has been abandoned, the pigeons continue to make ceremonial appearances every now and then.
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