Police interrogators in India killed 100 pigeons in an effort to extract a confession from a man who cared for the birds. After claims aired in a television programme, animal-rights activists have forced the government to order a high-level investigation of the bizarre killings under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Chandraveer Chaudhury, imprisoned in Gaziabad in Uttar Pradesh on a murder charge since 1999, befriended nearly 500 pigeons in jail. New Delhi TV (NDTV) reported that he had been feeding the birds for six years with the help of his family and friends, who regularly brought food for the pigeons during their visits. But this month, a jail inmate was killed under mysterious circumstances. Prison authorities summoned police. After preliminary investigations, Chaudhury emerged as the prime suspect. Apparently, after days of questioning Chaudhury yielded no result, authorities decided to slaughter the pigeons he doted on. Bird catchers were deployed but they caught only about 100 pigeons. The rest escaped. 'Policemen decided to wring their necks one by one and chop their wings to break down the man, but he did not confess to the murder,' jail warden Ram Prakash Sharma said. 'Chaudhury was traumatised. He cried. He begged us to spare the birds. But he insisted that he had no role in the prison murder.' NDTV's investigation claimed that inmate Qamaruddin Ali died after being tortured by police on May 4. Initially, police claimed that the man died of tuberculosis. But after an autopsy revealed that he had been beaten to death, they blamed Chaudhury and three other prisoners. The pigeons were massacred from May 14-18 in a last-ditch attempt to frame Chaudhury for Ali's death, according to reports. Santosh Kumar, a lawyer representing People for Animals (PFA), said that police and jail authorities were equally responsible for the gruesome killings. Mr Kumar said that if the official probe failed to nail the culprits, PFA would file a criminal case against the pigeon killers. 'We have sufficient evidence to send them to jail for at least five years,' he said.