New Delhi: More than 20,000 telegrams are estimated to have been booked on the day the country bid adieu to 163-year-old telegram service with one of the last messages booked being for Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi.
A telegram was booked for the young Gandhi just before the computer closed at around 11.45 pm on Sunday at Central Telegraph Office (CTO) in Delhi.
Gandhi was wished "success and happiness in life" and "glories of greatman of the past".
Hundreds crammed into 75 telegram offices in the country yesterday to send souvenir messages before the service was shutdown after 162 years.
Known popularly as `Taar` or wire, the telegram service, which provided millions with a fast and reliable mode of communication, closed because of mounting financial losses and becoming redundant in an era of mobile phones and Internet.
"Around 20,000 telegram are estimated to have been booked and 12,568 were despatched by afternoon. Last telegram was for Rahul Gandhi before computer finally closed. Maximum bookings of over 11,000 are estimated to have been done in Mumbai alone," a spokesperson for state-owned BSNL said.
On average, 5,000 telegrams were sent daily.
BSNL, which has given the charge of telegraph after the latter was separated from Department of Posts in 2002, cancelled leave and increased staff at all telegram offices over weekend to cater to the last day rush.
He added that there was huge crowd of farewell bidders to telegraph. Officials had to collect all entry manually as there was paucity of time.
"We decided not to disappoint any customer. Hence, we collected forms manually. Our telegraph office staff had to stay over night, prepare receipt and book messages manually after closing computers," he said.