In this age of instant communication, can a letter from the country’s home minister to a state chief minister take five days to reach? It can — if sent by Speedpost.
This is the time the mail sent by P Chidambaram — protesting attacks on rival political party workers by armed cadres of the CPI(M) in West Bengal, calling it “a collapse of law and order” in the state — took to reach Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.
Asked about the letter after its contents were leaked in Delhi — sparking off a poltical storm — Bhattacharjee repeatedly denied he’d got any such letter.
He wasn’t lying. The letter, sent from Delhi on December 22, reached the CM at 11am Monday. “I have received the letter. I will give a reply,” he said. An official in the chief minister’s office said the letter lay undelivered at Kolkata’s general post office over the weekend.
Why wasn’t the letter emailed or faxed? Because it was marked ‘secret’ and procedure dictated it be sent by courier or special messenger in sealed cover.
“Letters to chief ministers on security-related issues are classified secret communications. They have to be sealed and sent by Speed Post,” a government source said.
That the contents got leaked anyway is another matter. After the letter was received, CPM state secretary Biman Bose wondered how the media had got hold of its contents before the CM did.
A government official in Delhi conceded the letter “should have reached him (CM) within a day or so”.
The postal department, which charges R25 for a Speed Post, delivers such mail between 24 and 72 hours. In this case, it took nearly 120 hours.