Are you familiar with India's inaugural post office? Its location is bound to astonish you
The New Indian Express

Are you familiar with India's inaugural post office? Its location is bound to astonish you

The post office is located right on the edge of Pak-occupied-Kashmir where the LoC divides the nations.

India's "first" post office bearing PIN code 193224 is located on the banks of the Kishanganga river, the de facto Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir's Kupwara district with Pakistan-occupied territory just across the stream at a stone's throw.

It was known as the last post office of the country until recently, when the India signboard near it described it as the "First Post Office of India", as it is the first one from the LoC or border in terms of distance.

Abdul Hamid Kumar, Superintendent Post Offices, Baramulla Division, said, "Earlier it was known as the last post office as we cannot deliver beyond it. Then, the Army changed it to the first post office as it is the first post office from the LoC or the border in terms of distance." The residents of this apparently sleepy hamlet said the post office has been functional even before India got Independence or Pakistan came into existence. It has not stopped delivering mail even at peak hostilities in 1965, 1971 or the frequent cross-border shelling incidents that had become regular occurrences after eruption of Pakistan-backed militancy in 1990.

Shakir Bhat, the postmaster, said the post office, which has been here since 1947, never stopped its services.

"Before the ceasefire (agreement between India and Pakistan in 2021), it was very risky to go out, deliver the mail or pick up the posts. Today we feel peace and we want peace between the two nations to prevail," Bhat told PTI.

The post office was even washed away in the flash floods that hit the Keran sector in 1993.

"I was appointed to the department in 1992. After the 1993 floods, the post office has been functioning from my house," he said.

Bhat said he does not get any rent for operating the post office from home and he is not seeking any.

He added that there are three mailmen, who work with him at the post office, providing a wide range of services to the local people and the security forces deployed at the first post of India.

The postmaster, however, said lack of dependable communication facility meant this post office cannot offer online services like other post offices across the country.

"For now, there is no (online communication) network here, so no digital services are being offered," he added.

Bhat wants peace to prevail as it has brought tourism to Keran.

"It is because of peace that everything is good. Tourism is here only due to peace," he said.

Kupwara Deputy Commissioner Ayushi Sudan said the communication connectivity issues were being addressed and an optical fiber cable project should be completed by the end of this year.

"We already have a connectivity project in the pipeline. The OFC link we hope will be completed by the end of this year," she said.

Tufail Bhat operates a camping site for tourists outside the post office and a souvenir kiosk where the people can make memories.

"With increasing tourism flow in Keran, the Army helped me in an adventure course. Now I have started my own camping site here," he said.

Referring to the post office, he said it was becoming an attraction for the tourists.

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"This is the first post office of the country and it is still active and with increasing tourism here, this also got popular. Post office vans come here with posts and parcels," he added.

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