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

Letters to be sorted out in front of the main post office in the capital of Himachal Pradesh Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption No mail in years? Maybe check with your local postman

A postal worker in India has been suspended after he was found not to have delivered thousands of letters for more than 10 years.

Ever wondered why you never heard back from that job offer, that ATM card application or why that person you really wanted to hear from never wrote?

Well, if you're in the Odhanga village in India's Orissa state, there's a good chance that letter was in fact sent.

It was just never delivered, piling up with countless other undelivered mail.

The stash of old letters and packages was discovered by chance when a group of school children played in the recently abandoned post office after the branch had moved to a new location.

Playing in the yard, they noticed large bags with letters sticking out, local media report.

When they looked inside and discovered ATM cards and bank passbooks, they alerted their parents and soon the authorities were on the case.

According to the Hindustan Times newspaper, it's thought there are some 6,000 letters and packages with the oldest dating back as far as 2004.

Some 1,500 letters have been salvaged while many of the remaining items are soggy or damaged by termites.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption India Post is one of the most widely distributed postal systems in the world

The reluctant mailman is named as Jagannath Puhan, assistant branch post master, who for most of the past decade was alone in charge at the village office.

Lazy but smart?

And while he appeared to be lazy in delivering the mail, he was smart in how he went about it.

Any registered mail or speed post was duly delivered as he knew the sender would likely track the delivery, officials said.

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

It is not clear yet why the mailman so blatantly neglected his duties.

According to the Hindustan Times he defended himself by saying that for several years he "couldn't walk properly and was not in a condition to deliver these letters".

Authorities investigating the case are quoted as saying they are puzzled as to why over all those years no resident had raised complaints.

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 is quoted in the Indian Express.

But many a letter might never reach its proper addressee - countless letters have been so damaged over the years that the names on them are indecipherable.

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