Susi Ganesan tells Canadian university to cancel Leena Manimekalai's visa

Susi Ganesan has written to York University in Canada, where Leena is enrolled as an MFA (Film) student, discouraging the university from supporting her.
Leena Manimekalai
Leena Manimekalai
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Filmmaker Leena Manimekalai has been fighting an onslaught of petitions filed against her by Kollywood director Susi Ganesan. The petitions followed in the wake of the 2018 #MeToo movement when Leena had alleged that Susi Ganesan had sexually harassed her. Apart from the defamation case he filed against her, he had also been filing petitions at the Saidapet Magistrate Court in Chennai to impound Leena’s travel documents to prevent her from going to Canada, where she is enrolled as a student for Master of Fine Arts (Film) course at York University on a full scholarship. In the latest development, Ganesan has written to York University directly, asking it to recall its letter to the Indian court supporting Leena and to cancel Leena’s student visa.

“Yes, I named my harasser during the #metooIndia movement. 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 wrote on Twitter on Monday, September 27. Leena’s passport was impounded on September 9, 2021, by the Passport Authority – a case Leena is fighting in court as well.

In an email dated September 15, 2021, Ganesan wrote to officials at York University as well government officials in Canada saying that the Indian court had passed an order to “restrain the negligent attitude” of Leena and impound her passport to ensure she attends the “criminal trial” against her (the defamation case). “Your letter […] has demanded and advised the Indian court to remove the ban order in order to enable the accused to flee India evading criminal trial. Therefore, we hereby call upon you to review the court order and your letter and recall the same if you have communicated such a letter officially,” Ganesan’s email stated. 

The York University had, on September 11, written to the high court confirming that Leena is admitted to the 2021-22 MFA Film Studies programme on a scholarship based on her credentials and creative work. The university urged the court to allow for Leena’s passport, which was impounded on September 9 to be returned to her so that she could go to Canada to attend the last two terms of her study.

Ganesan, in his letter to the university, stated that the university’s letter to the high court has “no merit in the eyes of the criminal justice of India” but can affect the public opinion given the university’s credibility. Ganesan added that if the university is still interested in supporting Leena, representatives from the university should come to visit the criminal court in India where the trial is taking place. This is not the first time that Ganesan has written to York University directly; but has been writing to them since September 2020 on the matter. 

This, despite the fact that Leena only has a student visa and had earlier told the court that she would diligently inform it in case she wishes to travel abroad for her studies or her film screenings.

“My existence is threatened. I am not able to travel, to study, to screen my films. My harasser misuses all my court documents to destroy my life. He wrote to my University in Canada directly asking them to cancel my Canadian visa. He uses the judiciary to continue to harass me with his power. His petitions are nothing but public slut shaming,” Leena said on the matter.

“He is misleading the court to prejudice the judge with my anti-establishment politics. He calls me urban naxal, maoist, anti-Modi, homosexual, mentally unstable, pornographic poet in his defamation case petition citing my social media posts and poems and translations and articles and films. I suspect my data is being snooped as my website gets hacked the moment it gets launched. I almost gave up on my website as my resources also are limited to cope with constant hacks. I am now afraid that he will use his fullest privilege of power and wealth to get my life if the legal ways of revenge run out,” she added.

Meanwhile, due to the petitions to impound Leena’s travel documents and prevent her travel, the main defamation case against her by Ganesan has not made major headway. Leena and her legal counsel have filed a writ in the high court against her passport being impounded, and are simultaneously also challenging the magistrate court's orders at the sessions court as well as the defamation case at the Saidapet Magistrate Court. 

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