New Delhi: As the iconic 163-year-old telegram passed into history, the last message was sent to Rahul Gandhi.
The telegram counter closed at 11:45 PM last night and the last message was booked at the counter of Central Telegraph Office (CTO) Janpath by one Ashwani Mishra, who sent messages to Gandhi and Director General of DD news SM Khan.
The revenue collected was Rs 68,837 as the country bade adieu to the harbinger of good and bad news for generations of Indians.
The total booking was 2,197 of which billing through computer accounted for 1,329 and phone booking 91, a senior telegraph officer said.
CTO had collected forms from many individuals and these will be manually handled, the officer said.
A large number of people, many of them youngsters and first timers, turned up yesterday at four telegraph centres in the Capital which have almost been forgotten in recent years to send a message to their loved ones on the last day of the service.
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.
Nudged out by technology --- SMS, emails, mobile phones -- the iconic service gradually faded into oblivion with less and less people taking recourse to it.
Though started as a Morse code service, the telegram service evolved gradually with the use of computers. At the time of its death, it had become a web based telegraph mailing service (WBTMS) which used emails to instantly convey message to the other end.
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.
For jawans and armed forces seeking leave or waiting for transfer or joining reports, it was a quick and handy mode of communication.