A fire broke out Tuesday afternoon at central Delhi's Shastri Bhawan that houses several central government ministries, triggering a war of words between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and opposition parties over "burning of files", though an official said no documents were destroyed.
The fire broke out at 2.15 pm on the terrace of the six-storeyed building, which is located in the high security India Gate-Parliament House area, the Delhi fire department said.
Seven fire engines were rushed to the spot and the blaze was brought under control by 2.55 pm, a senior official of the department said.
"The fire erupted in the scrap and no files were gutted," Atul Garg, Delhi Chief Fire Officer, said.
Though no one was injured, the incident in the office hours created panic among those present in the building. Besides housing offices of several ministers and top bureaucrats, scores of people visit the building and the area daily for official works.
"The fire broke out on the terrace of D-Wing of the building. Furniture scraps were kept there and the over heating of the butane gas could have caused the fire," another senior fire department official said.
The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained.
Incidents of minor fires have often been reported at Shastri Bhawan in the past.
After this afternoon's blaze, opposition leaders like Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and Communist Party of India-Marxist's Sitaram Yechury raised allegations that government files were being destroyed, drawing sharp retort from the BJP.
In a tweet, Gandhi said, "Modi ji burning files is not going to save you. Your day of judgement is coming."
Yechury tweeted: "The fire at Shastri Bhawan, in such a secure place equipped with all fire fighting equipment, raises suspicions. BJP govts before demitting office, after 13 days, 13 months or then in 2004, are always keen to destroy important files (sic)."
Hitting back, Union minister and BJP leader Prakash Javadekar said lies were being peddled by the Congress president.
"@RahulGandhi ji, stop peddling lies! The fire in Shastri Bhavan has caused no damage to any files. The waste and scrap kept on the top floor caught fire and was extinguished within 30 minutes. Do your homework before casting allegations. One more jhoot of Congress! (sic)" he tweeted.
The building houses ministries of Law, Information and Broadcasting, Corporate Affairs, Chemicals and Petrochemicals and Human Resources Development.