From prisoner to painter: Karachi inmate earns millions off artwork


Taking a random stroll inside Karachi central prison, one finds stories strewn across the alleys and barred aisles with hundreds of smiling faces betraying dejection of being stripped off their freedom for any reason. One such face is of Muhammad Ejaz, in forties, who, while serving his 25-year sentence under section 365c of the Code of Criminial Procedure, transformed into a noted artist.

Ejaz began taking painting and embroidery lessons in the second year of his incarceration, in 2014, and by few years he was able to produce works that merited exhibitions. He says he pioneered the merging two arts together, painting with brushes and emboridery, to creating 3D paintings.

“I have so far made about Rs4 million just by selling off my art in various global and local exhibitsions,” he said, adding that just recently two of his paintings brought in $350 and $950 respectively.

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None of our proceeds are being interfered with by the prison administation and we support our families and our prison expediture with those, he said.

During the month of Ramzan, holy for Muslims globally, a remission of few months is awarded to all inmates in jail by the head of police and head of jail, but Ejaz said despite the chipping away of his sentence, he’d much rather his appeal for reprieve made it to court and brought him success in seeking freedom.

“Nothing equals freedom,” he said. “No amount of money earned or art learned can compensate for my freedom I seek so badly.”


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