The records room in the old office of the Fazilka tehsildar caught fire early on Tuesday, gutting all documents stored there.
The security staff at the local crime investigation agency (CIA) located opposite the records room noticed the fire in one portion of the old tehsil complex, but before it could be controlled, documents, including revenue records like mutations and jamabandi, were destroyed.
The police station is 25 metres away and the sub-jail 30 metres from the records room. It took the fire tenders more than an hour to control the blaze.
The police have started an investigation and registered a case against unidentified persons. An official said on condition of anonymity that it was a case of arson.
Captain (retired) MS Bedi questioned how the arsonists could dare to set the records room on fire when it was in the proximity of the CIA and the police station.
Deputy commissioner Basant Garg said the staff of the tehsil office had shifted to a new administrative complex. "We are trying to find out what kind of records were gutted in the fire," he added.
On February 27, 2011, the records room of the court had caught fire. Later, the persons involved in the incident were traced and they confessed that they did so to destroy evidence pertaining to a case that was being heard at that time.