Telegram has become a thing of the past on Sunday as the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) decided to close down the service across the country citing viability reasons.

There was a last minute rush at the telegram booking counter in Tallakulam as telegram lovers turned up to send message to their near and dear ones for the last time. At 5.p.m. on July 14, the booking counter was closed at the Tallakulam Central Telegraph Office which was the only place open in Madurai city on Sundays for sending telegrams. On the last day, 113 telegrams were booked in Madurai and most of the messages were about plea to continue this 162-year-old service.

In fact, the last telegram booked in Madurai on Sunday evening reflects the emotional mood as the country bid goodbye to the service.

“Withdraw unilateral decision of BSNL to close down telegram service from July 15,” said the message sent by a telegraph employee to the Chairman and Managing Director of the BSNL.

There was a huge disappointment on the faces of those who turned up at the booking counter. Just as the counter was about to be closed, 36-year-old K. Anandan of Villapuram, who is working in a snacks shop, rushed in fill up a telegram form. “I am sending a message to my shop owner that today is a sad day. He is in Madurai only, on TPK Road. But I want to share my feeling with him,” he said.

Several others shared their thoughts with The Hindu as the telegraph employees were winding up their work for the day. I. Robert Chandrakumar, High Court advocate, has sent a three-word telegram to his wife saying “I love you.” “This is the last message I can say through telegram,” he blushes.

P. Anandan, State organising secretary of BSNL Employees’ Union, and M. Saravanan, secretary, Madurai Bench High Court Advocates’ Association, have appealed to the BSNL and the Central government to reconsider the decision to stop the telegram service.

“It is a public utility and should not be looked at from the pint of revenue,” they said.

Mr. Robert Chandrakumar is hoping that a right intervention will come from the Court because the telegram is the best tool for advocates. “Save the telegram service. When railways and bus transport can run losses why not the poor telegram service,” he asks.

There are six telegraph offices in the city — Head Post Office, Tallakulam, TVS Nagar, High Court Bench, K.K.Nagar and Mahal.

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