A dozen prisoners serving sentence in Patna’s Beur jail are these days busy drawing lines and realising the impact of colours on canvas.
An Art College teacher, Dinesh Kumar, has been imparting them training at a prison hall on the initiative of Beur jail Superintendent OP Gupta for the last ten weeks.
The impact that these creative sessions has had on the prison inmates, in a place considered violent, can be felt clearly if one visits the cells. The new art learners can be seen preparing for an art show to be held by jail authorities later this year.
For some of them nearly four-hour stint a day on all weekdays is a creative outlet to express their pain and agony. It is also an escape from isolation in the complete silence of prison cells. Some of them have even evinced deeper interest and wish to continue the course in painting and go for a degree in the subject.
“Initially I was hesitant about their response and also tested their aptitude to select the first group for art training. Some of them created lovely images on the very first day. There is so much of raw talent visible therein,” Dinesh Kumar said.
He further explained, “With each passing week they are getting closer to me, sharing their pains and problems. Interacting with them is an altogether different experience. In fact, I am learning too to look at the deeper recesses of life. One student who is facing life imprisonment in a murder case said that painting had helped him cope with the problem of isolation and stress. He is still preparing to accept the fact that he has to spend his entire life in confinement.”
Another prisoner, waiting to get a bail, said that he wanted to learn painting to earn money. “But he is equally apprehensive as to whether any one will hire him for work. This is the question which cannot be answered by anybody,” Kumar said. Another prisoner facing a life term said he had been implicated in the murder case and was in depression since then. Painting had helped him get out of depression, he added.
Kumar said, “Some of them are preparing to take exams to be conducted by the Pracheen Kala Kendra, Chandigarh."
The Beur jail superintendent said, “It’s just an effort to make them indulge in some creative work. Such experiments have been carried out in Delhi’s Tihar jail and Central Jail, Ranchi. We also have a catalogue of the paintings put up by the prisoners at Ranchi. Likewise, we will also hold a show of their creations in the state capital very soon."