Filmmaker Leena Manimekalai, whose passport was recently impounded as part of the ongoing legal battle with filmmaker Susi Ganesan, whom she accused of sexual harassment, tweeted on Monday that Ganesan has now written to York University in Canada, where Leena is pursuing her filmmaking course, telling them to cancel her student visa.
Leena, who named her harasser in 2018 during the #MeToo movement, has been fighting a criminal defamation case filed against her by Ganesan since 2019. Ganesan also recently filed a petition to impound Leena’s passport.
“Yes, I named my harasser during #metooIndia moment. Yes, he is weaponising defamation laws to silence me. I’m fighting it. Yes, he is using his powers to impound my passport. I’m challenging it. But isn’t it asking for my blood if he writes to my University in Canada to cancel my visa?” Leena tweeted on Monday.
Leena was all set to travel Canada to complete the last leg of her MFA Film program from York University when her passport was impounded based on a petition filed by Ganesan. While his previous petition asking to impound her passport was not entertained by the Saidapet Magistrate Court, Ganesan moved the court yet again and, in early September, Leena was notified by the Passport Authority that her passport has been impounded, in light of the defamation case pending against her.
Leena filed a writ petition with the Madras High Court to quash the passport impoundment. Following this, the high court issued a notice to the Regional Passport Office in Chennai. The hearing is expected to be held during the first week of October.
It is to be noted that the Canada university had earlier written to the Madras High Court that Leena is indeed a part of the filmmaking course and that she has to be there in the country to attend the class schedules and urged the court to return her passport.
Speaking to Silverscreen India, Leena said “I am fighting the main defamation case at the Saidapet Magistrate Court. I am challenging the Magistrate’s biased orders and harassment at the Sessions Court. I have filed a writ at High Court against the passport impoundment by Passport Officer. Yes, courts have taken over my life completely. I have to figure out how to continue to live, think, write and create beyond this.”
She added that the graduate program director, dean, and professors from York University are in “total solidarity” with her, which, she said, is the “only consolation” she gets through this ordeal.
“I do not know about winning given that every system created are pimping patriarchy. But I will stay. I will fight. I will not shut up. This is as important as creating art, writing poems, making films. I will have a body of work despite everything. Despite myself. That I can assure,” Manimekalai said.
Advocate Senthil Kumar, who is part of Leena’s counsel told Silverscreen India that Ganesan has been sending emails to the university for over a year now.
“He (Susi Ganesan) had sent a letter again last week to the university and that was when it brought us to our knowledge as well, asking our stance and explanation on the matter,” he added.
On Tuesday, at a Sessions Court hearing in Chennai, Leena’s petition challenging the Magistrate’s order to impound her passport was heard.
Senthil added that the next hearing at the Magistrate court will be held on October 4 and at the Sessions Court on October 6. The High Court hearing is also expected to happen around the same time as the Sessions Court hearing.