Mumbai: Chintan Upadhyay turns teacher in Thane jail, trains inmates to become artists

Thane: Renowned artist Chintan Upadhyay is an undertrial who is lodged at the Thane jail for his alleged role in the murder of his estranged wife Hema Upadhyay and her lawyer Harish Bhambhani. But a jail can’t contain an artist. Upadhyay is now training fellow inmates to let out the artist inside them.  Upadhyay turning art teacher is part of the jail administration’s effort to give inmates a chance to express themselves instead of serving out their jail terms depressed and stressed out from being away from their families.

This initiative, titled ‘Art From Behind Bars’, is supported by Dagar Pathway Trust, a community service project for children that is working towards promoting artistic talent among jail inmates across the Maharashtra. “Nine inmates showed interest in the class and they got training from Chintan Upadhyay. He also was happy to get new students,” said Thane jail superintendent Nitin Vayachal.

These nine inmates used to sketch with pen or pencil, but got an interesting offer to paint with the brush. The paintings that are ready will be displayed in the jail premises soon. There has been such projects in other jails and these will be exhibited at Kamalnayan Bajaj Art Gallery in Mumbai soon,” added Vayachal.

Earlier, Vinod Gangval, the lawyer of artist Hema Upadhyay, whose body was found stuffed in cardboard boxes in a sewer in December 2015, alleged that the main accused in the case — artist Chintan Upadhyay, her incarcerated husband — could have influenced the transfer of the case probe from Kandivali police to Unit 7 of the Mumbai crime branch.

When contacted, a crime branch officer, however, said, “The crime branch conducted an investigation from all angles based on the facts that were there with the unit. The details of the investigation were put up before the court.” Along with Hema, the body of her lawyer Harish Bhambani was also found stuffed in the cardboard boxes. One of the important accused in the case, Vidhyadhar Rajbhar, is still on the run and he is stated to be the crucial link in the conspiracy. Gangval said the transfer of the probe was an arbitrary decision to sabotage the investigation.

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