163-year-old telegram service to close forever at 9pm today
NEW DELHI: The 163-year old telegram service in the country – the harbinger of good and bad news for generations of Indians – is dead.
Once the fastest means of communication for millions of people, the humble telegram was today buried without any requiem but for the promise of preserving the last telegram as a museum piece.
Nudged out by technology – SMS, emails, mobile phones – the iconic service gradually faded into oblivion with less and less people taking recourse to it.
Started in 1850 on an experimental basis between Koklata and Diamond Harbour, it was opened for use by the British East India Company the following year. In 1854, the service was made available to the public.
It was such an important mode of communication in those days that revolutionaries fighting for the country’s independence used to cut the telegram lines to stop the British from communicating.
Old timers recall that receiving a telegram would be an event itself and the messages were normally opened with a sense of trepidation as people feared for the welfare of their near and dear ones.