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 on Sunday 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.

For jawans and armed forces seeking leave or waiting for transfer or joining reports, it was a quick and handy mode of communication. Lawyers vouched for the telegrams as they were registered under the Indian Evidence Act and known for their credibility when presented in court.

Bollywood was not to be left behind and immortalized the service with many sudden turns in films being announced by the advent of the 'taar'. Pockets of rural India still use the service but with the advent of technology and newer means of communication, the telegram found itself edged out.

"The service will start at 8 am and close by 9 pm on Sunday. The service will not be available from Monday," BSNL CMD R K Upadhyay said.


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