Kohima, Jan. 18: A fire broke out in the Nagaland civil secretariat this morning but timely intervention by fire-tenders saved it from being gutted.
However, 80 per cent of the files of the personal and administrative reforms department were destroyed. The fire also destroyed six computers.
The fire that broke out around 7.30am was doused by fire-tenders with the help of army, paramilitary forces and police personnel who were rehearsing for Republic Day parade at the secretariat plaza.
"Timely intervention by the fire department saved the secretariat from being reduced to ashes," Kohima superintendent of police R. Tetseo, who was at the spot, said.
He said the police would investigate the cause of the fire but did not rule out sabotage.
A source said the fire could have been caused by a short circuit while another said an electric heater had probably been left on the entire night. Other sources, however, said preliminary investigations "smelt a rat".
The state government has constituted an inquiry committee, an official statement said. Headed by L. Singsit, special secretary (home), it will probe the cause of the fire and suggest measures to prevent similar incidents in future.
The secretariat is a highly guarded area. The incident has raised doubts about how the fire broke out inside the second floor room where files of top government officials, including IAS and Nagaland Civil Services, are kept. There is a CRPF sentry post below it.
Of late, there have been allegations of tampering of age and manipulation in appointment orders by government officials and employees. The state government had also detected some such malpractices.
Several Naga organisations, led by the Naga Students' Federation, have been demanding investigations into the anomalies.
C. Ponraj, commissioner and secretary of the personal and administrative reforms department, and several top officials of the state rushed to the secretariat to assess the damage. While Ponraj's chamber was spared, the file room was almost destroyed. Ponraj held a meeting with officials of the department.