Disabled Thrissur man loses job opportunity to undelivered mail

Sudheer. Photo: Special Arrangement

Who has not waited for the postman for an urgent document at least once in their life?

The document in question could be a registered letter, Aadhaar card, PAN card, interview call letter, bank notices, ATM card or what have you, no doubt really important for the addressee. A delay in receiving the document could make or break a life.

That's what's transpired for Veluppadam resident Uluvan Veettil Sudheer, a job aspirant with disability from Varantharappilly in Thrissur district.

Sudheer waited for weeks to receive a job interview call letter in July. Thanks to the numbness of the authorities in Veluppadam post office, he lost a job opportunity at the dental department of Thrissur Government Medical College.

The reason: Veluppadam post office has been functioning without a permanent postman to deliver letters for many months now.

Sudheer (46) who lives with his wife and two kids is shattered: “My misery began when I was seven. My right hand had to be amputated following an electric shock from a broken KSEB electric line. Ever since completing my basic education, I have been searching for a job. I have done all kinds of work to make ends meet - running a small grocery shop to being a daily wager. I started searching for a job when A K Antony was the chief minister. I have approached all the chief ministers for a job since, but I am unlucky,” Sudheer said.

The interview call letter was sent from the employment exchange on July 5. When Sudheer contacted the Veluppadam post office as the letter was not delivered, he was told that there’s no permanent postman.

Veluppadam post office. Photo: Special Arrangement

“Hundreds of postal letters are piled up in the post offices. All I could see was addressees coming to the post office and searching for letters in the piled up corners. When I asked about my interview call letter, an officer mercilessly asked me to join those searching for letters. I too made a valiant effort. I left there crying,” he said.

Sudheer underwent angioplasty in 2014: "I still need medicines worth Rs 2,600 a month. I cannot do a job that demands a high level of fitness,” he said, adding that the Kerala Water Authority cut the water connection to his home, since he could not clear dues.

Sudheer's wife, Rubiya (37), hearing impaired, is a part-time tailor. “She stitches one-piece garments for women. She recently gave birth to our second son, just 90 days old now. I had high hopes pinned on this job,” Sudheer's voice trembled as he spoke.

The couple has an elder son, who is five years old.

“The biggest mistake I made was clearing the tenth standard equivalency certificate in 2010. The officers at the employment exchange who know my plight by now always tell me that had I not cleared the tenth, I would have been appointed as a sweeper or a last grade staff at least temporarily long ago,” he said.

When Onmanorama contacted Lalitha N V, branch post master of Velupadam post office, she admitted to the lapse. “An inquiry is on. We have not had a permanent postman for the past many months. Those who come on contract, leave the job in a few days. We are trying our best to deliver at least the registered letters immediately,” she said.

Velupadam post office receives at least 200 letters a day, in which one-third would be registered letters. They have to cover a large area of 35 km daily. Temporary staffers at the post office such as a postman are paid Rs 450 a day, a source confirmed.

Kerala Differently Abled Welfare Association (KDAWA), meantime, apprised the chief minister’s office. "We demand either a job or at least compensation for Sudheer,” said Kadar Nattika, general secretary of the association.

The association wrote to the post master general (north) Kerala demanding action at the earliest following which the enquiry  began.

“All I want is justice. We are an ageing couple; before we die, we would like to ensure a decent life for our kids,” Sudheer said.

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