Thursday, 24 April 2008

When police managed mail delivery system

Long back in the past the postman was a most welcome visitor to house as he was the one to deliver messages including surprise messages. His arrival to a house was awaited with a keen anxiety on the part of the people. He not only delivered the messages but had to read them out to addressees as those were the days when literacy, particularly in the villages, was so scarce. Postman was actually not the very first link to mail system as it was preceded by a similar system with the difference that it was managed by police. It was Lord Dalhousie, the then Viceroy of India, who introduced postal system in the country. He was for a meticulous scrutiny before the mail was delivered to the people with a view to ensure that there was nothing in them against the then British rule. It was for this reason that the job was entrusted to police and the mails used to be delivered to the addressees through police stations. Secret messages exchanged by freedom fighters were thus checked and confiscated. Tantiya Tope, the legendary freedom fighter and first rank lieutenant of Nanaji Deshmukh at Bithoor in Kanpur had to face a tough time with British when some of his letters fell into their hands in the process. There was nothing like a specific monogram or any definite stamp till the first postal stamp was released in India in the year 1852 at Karachi (now in Pakistan) and manual usage on that count used to differ from instance to instance. By the time India became independent things had changed a lot and the first Indian postal stamp was released on 21/11/1947 costing three and half an aana. Police managing the mail delivery system followed by measures like appointing postmen specifically for distribution of mail and finally the current mode of it in the form of internet mailing device is all a big story. Youngsters when told that it was originally the police to handle mail deliveries are not prepared to believe.

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