In Depth

India postman sacked for hiding 6,000 letters over a decade

Large stash of undelivered old letters and packages was discovered by a group of school children

A postman in India has lost his job after it emerged he had not delivered roughly 6,000 letters over a period of ten years.

According to the BBC, the large stash of undelivered old letters and packages was discovered by a group of school children who were playing in the recently abandoned post office building.

Jagannath Puhan - who served as the postmaster for more than a decade in the village of Odhanga in the state of Orissa - was suspended after an initial inquiry found him “guilty of negligence and dereliction of duty”, according to police officials.

“We have managed to salvage over 1,500 letters in two days. But more than half of 6,000 letters that Puhan did not deliver have either turned soggy or eaten by termites and cannot be delivered at all,” the police official said.

While he “appeared to be lazy in delivering the mail, he was smart in how he went about it”, says the BBC.

Any registered mail or speed post was delivered as required seeing as Puhan knew the sender would likely track the delivery, officials explained.

Ordinary mail, however, “had a good chance of ending up in the storeroom rather than with the intended recipient”.

A senior postal official told the Hindustan Times that it appeared Puhan had picked and chose what he wanted to deliver.

“He delivered the registered letters, money orders, speed posts and Aadhaar cards (identity cards), for which record has to be maintained, he seems to have chucked ordinary letters as no such records are maintained,” he said.

“Since there were no official complaints, we had no way of knowing what he had delivered and what he had not,” he added.

Puhan has admitted to throwing what he describes as “several letters” in an abandoned room but said he had to do so because of his ill-health.

“For several years I could not walk properly and was not in a condition to deliver these letters,” he said.

Whatever mail will be able to be salvaged will now be delivered - albeit with that slight delay of several years.

"I personally noticed a letter from the Indian Navy dated 2011 for a local boy who had applied to them," one of the investigating post employees told the Indian Express.

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