What was supposed to be a welcoming gesture has now become controversy in the West Godavari district of Hyderabad.

Footage has emerged showing members of the Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) tying two pigeons inside a rocket before firing it into the air to mark the arrival of President of the APCC, Raghu Veera Reddy.

One of the individuals now subject to a police investigation has been named as Sheikh Rafiullah Baig who holds the position of West Godavari district Congress president.

There were initial reports suggesting the pigeons were killed in the act, but it has now been reported that the birds managed to fly away unharmed.

Kovvur Town Police Inspector Prasad Rao told Indian Express:  “The newspaper cones carrying the pigeons detached when the rockets exploded in the sky and they flew off but it definitely is cruelty towards the birds.”

“Some people claimed that the birds died but we checked videos taken on mobile phones which show that the birds were unharmed and flew away. We have registered a case against Baig and two of his supporters who have been identified under various sections of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.”

The incident took place on Sunday which also coincided with World Animal Day.