2nd April 1979 was a historic day. On that day, Jammu-Tawi – Pune Jhelum Express stopped at the Ahmed nagar Railway station for the first time as also it was day of raising of the MIRC. The train moved off after a short halt and the station was almost empty. At the railway station stood five persons in uniform who had reported to join MIRC. Capt S Chakraborty, 1st Garhwal Rifles, Sub Darshan Singh 7 Punjab, Hav Clerk Gopal Yellal 20 MLI, Nk Subhash 7 Grenadiers, L/NK Bharat Singh 1st Garhwal and three dogs of the Commandant designate. There was no communication to find out the location of MIRC and no one could give any information. There was no telephone anywhere near the railway station. A vehicles of Auto Regt ACC&S had come to drop someone at the railway station; we took lift and reached ACC&S. After settling down, I met Lt Col Narender Singh (AQ) ACC&S. A file was handed over to me, which contained raising signal of MIRC. He briefed me about the raising; SSO Ahmednagar Capt Sharma was also present. He mentioned that the Commandant designate Brig MK Menon would arrive Poona on 6th April by air. His accommodation and transport has been arranged. Proposed area of MIRC is in the area of old STUD FARM located 6 km on the Ahmednagar- Sholapur road. His final words were “as far as I am concern MIRC is raised” any question? A vehicle and a guide to show me the proposed site was provided.
First visit to the proposed site of MIRC along with Sub Darshan Singh was exciting. There was no habitation on both sides of the Sholapur road and the traffic was very thin. Soon we reached the area and stepped out of the vehicles in front of a guardroom, which was later used as first quarter guard of MIRC. We walked through the entire area and it was disappointing. There was only one black top road from the IN gate to Pirbaba. There was hardly any building in good shape and fit for use. The area was full of small and medium size stones and thorny bushes.
On 6th morning at 0730hrs Brig M K Menon reached Poona. A tall, dark, heavily built officer in uniform stepped out of the aircraft. Brig Mike Menon as he was popularly known was an impressive and dynamic personality. The day was spent meeting Commander and staff of Headquarters Poona Sub Area and Army Commander and staff of Headquarters Southern Command. We reached Ahmed nagar around 5pm and visited the proposed site of MIRC same evening.
Next morning Commandant met Maj Gen A S Vaidya MVC Commandant ACC&S. After meeting Principal staff officers we sat down in duty clerk’s office to prepare the arrival report of raising. A large room with a small side room in a barrack in Auto regiment was given for the MIRC to start. No time was wasted in looking for any better place or comfort. The MIRC started functioning with almost zero resources.
Next few days we walked through the entire area and tried to assess tentative use of some of those sheds and dilapidated buildings. Having gone through the area Commandant said, “The center will have to grow from the grass root”. Moving to our own location was our first priority, but constraints were many. We decided to stay under canvas, hence started working out tentage requirement. Maj Brij Lal our first Quartermaster reported on posting on 16th April and was sent to Headquarters Southern Command the next day with tentage requirement. In the absence of Record Office we also functioned as one and sent out letter to the Mechanised Infantry Battalions giving Qualitative Requirements for posting personnel to the centre. Officer’s strength increased with Capt L Vijayan, Maj R C Sharma and Maj R T Ralte reporting.
ACTIVITIES IN MIRC WERE IN PEAK WITH LOTS OF BOARDS, PROJECTS AND VISITS. AT THAT JUNCTURE ON 25TH JULY WE RECEIVED A SIGNAL FROM COL OF THE MECHANISED INFANTRY REGIMENT REGARDING FIRST BIENNIAL CONFERENCE. IT WAS TO BE HELD FROM 9TH TO 12TH AUGUST 1979. RESPONSIBILITIES WERE GIVEN OUT AND WORK STARTED. WITH NO EXAGGERATION WE WORKED ALMOST 20 HOURS EVERY DAY.
Commandant asked me to organize Puja in the mandir inside MIRC (Present Mandir in officer’s colony) before moving in. On 29th April after Puja we moved into the permanent location of MIRC. Headquarters MIRC started functioning from building (Present Guest Room Astha). It was a proud moment for all those who were present. Mr Bishamber Dayal Agarwal with his son came to take contract of wet canteen. An old experienced hand having his contract in Mahar Regimental Centre. Agreement was signed and since then he is providing excellent service.
On 1st May first cookhouse started preparing meals for the men. Initially utensils were borrowed from local NCC Unit, later a set was collected from the OD Talegaon. On 9th May, MIRC Officers Mess started functioning in an EPIP tent opposite well No 10. Commandant’s birthday was on 12th May and it was celebrated in our tented mess. Everyone was quite high and happy. Mike came out with his favorite song “Sau sal pahele mujhe tumse pyar tha aaj bhi hai aur kal bhi rahega”. It was a memorable party as his dogs also joined.
MIRC started with very little MES furniture but soon we were allotted furniture’s ex NCC Academy Purandhar (near Poona). Maj RT Ralte collected and moved 30 x 3tons load of furniture to MIRC. MIRC had started in war footing before visits of Army Commander and Senior officers from Army Headquarters. Area cleaning, marking of each building, sign posting and overall ship shaping was in full swing. Army Commander, Quarter Master General and Director Infantry visited and was shown every building and given briefing.
On 19th May Lt Col A R Gore, Deputy Commandant reported on posting. Manpower was increasing with continuous posting of personnel. Tentative zoning of coy area was carried out and sketch of tented accommodation were prepared. During discussions with Army Commander, accommodation was the key issue. Recommendation of the staff was to start MIRC in TRH. Commandant put his foot down and said we are prepared to stay in tented accommodation till KLP comes up. Army Commander accepted the point and asked for the board proceedings to reach him within 21 days. It was a challenge for the officers and staff to work out such massive document within that short time. Maj Vijayan was given overall responsibility with Maj Ralte, R.C. Sharma, Brij Lal and self in the team. We worked 14 to 16 hours every day and produced the document before board in record time. Commandant used to visit each work site and spend time every day. His mobile office contained one folding table, office chair and black box. His office runner Nk Man Bahadur used to set up his office wherever he wanted. He used to sit under a tree and keep his one eye in the work in progress. It was his personal example that motivated each and every sole in MIRC to give their best. Since then, the spirit of MIRC is carried forward and we have reached a commendable position.
Activities in MIRC were in peak with lots of Boards, Projects and Visits. At that juncture on 25th July we received a signal from Col of the Mechanised Infantry Regiment regarding first biennial conference. It was to be held from 9th to 12th August 1979. Responsibilities were given out and work started. With no exaggeration we worked almost 20 hours every day. The first Biennial was historic in many ways. It was to be held in a very short notice without sufficient resources and infrastructures.
A time bound work plan was drawn. Officers used their initiative and executed their task as planned. The worst part was the weather as Ahmednagar experienced very heavy rain and all preparations in the open got washed away. Officers tented accommodation, Officers Mess, Sainik Sammelan and Bara Khana locations were to be relocated. It was difficult to find suitable locations, as movement on slushy black cotton soil was impossible. However, we did find alternative places for the Officers Mess and Officers living. The work commenced on war footing and completed just in time. Condition of officers tented colony was worst. Stepping out of the tent was impossible during rain due to black cotton soil. Everyone had to carry their footware in hand till they reached the road. They had to wash their feet before wearing shoes. However, these did not dampen the spirit and everyone took it in right spirit. Location selected for the Sainik Sammelan and Bara Khana was MT shed which had 36 concrete troughs. Orders were to get them removed without breaking.
It was a real tough job but not impossible. Sub Raghu Raj Singh of 11 Raj Rif completed the task in record time. Agenda points were trickling in till 8th august. Commandant approved draft agenda points at 2100 hrs on 8th August 1979. Biennial cell started typing the approved agenda points for cyclostyling after dinner and kept working whole night. Folders were kept on the conference table by 0600 hrs. Rest of the functions went off as per plan and was a grand success. The Conference was attended by a very large number of officers. Commandant and staff officers ACC&S and representatives of Army Headquarters attended first part of the conference. Regimental matters were discussed on the second day. Important decisions were taken on dress and accoutrements. Miss Priya daughter of Gen Sundarji designed regimental flag, which was accepted. Here in after Regiment did not look back and no tasks were difficult. Vision and dream of Gen Sundarji and Mike Menon had come true.