More than 130 paintings by inmates of the Surat Central jail were on display at a first-of-its-kind exhibition held by the jail authorities in the city over the weekend.
Surat-based businessman and chairman of KP Group (solar energy) Faruk Patel purchased all the paintings, done by 51 prisoners, for Rs 11 lakh. “Out of the total money generated, 50 per cent will go to the Prisoners’ Welfare Fund in the jail, while the remaining will go to the bank account of prisoners and their family,” said Surat central jail superintendent J M Desai.
The exhibition, which began on August 19, was inaugurated by Minister of State for Home Harsh Sanghavi at Vanita Vishram School Art Gallery in Athwalines area. The exhibition became an instant success as it attracted a large number of visitors.
“This is for the first time, we have organised an exhibition of the paintings done by prisoners of Surat Central jail. Once we have done such an exhibition of the prisoners of Sabarmati jail in Ahmedabad. We are conducting several activities to change the lifestyle of the prisoners in different jails across the state. In Surat, two prisoners had trained other prisoners in painting. We provided the raw materials,” said ADGP Prisons Dr. K L N Rao.
The paintings are in the price range of Rs 2,000 to Rs 25,000. “We wanted to develop their talents so that once they are out of jail, they can begin a new life and make use of their talent for bread and butter,” Desai added.
The prisoners painted various personalities including Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Dr. B R
Faruk Patel said he decided to purchase the paintings to motivate the prisoners. “We have decided to give the paintings to guests as Diwali gifts. The painting of PM Modi will be sent to the Prime Minister’s Office, while that of Shah will be sent to the home department office. President Murmu’s painting will be sent to the President’s office. It is soul-satisfying work,” he said, adding that all jails should be converted into hubs of education.
Murder convict Amit Patel (30) says he began learning the art of painting in the Surat Central Jail. “I came here to Surat Central jail in 2016. Here there are facilities such as schools, yoga classes, painting classes, and other activities. There were only two days left for my last Bachelor of Arts exam in Silvassa when something had happened as a result of which I committed a crime. I could continue my education after coming here and completing my graduation and post-graduation,” he said. A resident of the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, he was lodged in the Silvassa jail earlier.
In addition to painting, the jail authorities provide classes in diamond-cutting and polishing, textile work, electrician courses and painting, among others.