Nobel laureate Michael Levitt, wife stopped in Kerala backwaters

Shaju Philip
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State Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surenderan termed it a “highly deplorable” act. “I tender apology for the inconvenience caused to him.’’

A houseboat occupied by Nobel laureate Michael Levitt and his wife Shoshan was on Wednesday stopped in the backwaters in Alapuzzha by CITU supporters during the strike.

Levitt (72), who was awarded Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2013, was visiting Kerala as a state guest for a lecture series. He wrote to tour operator Kence George, “Being stopped by criminals on the Kerala backwaters sends a very bad message to tourists. It is as if a bandit stopped us at gunpoint and delayed us under threat of force for one hour. These persons, who did this, ignored all arguments that tourists were exempted and that I am a VIP guest of the Kerala government. He is obviously acting knowing that he is safe from prosecution. Sadly, this makes me fear that India is sinking into lawlessness.’’

The couple boarded the houseboat Tuesday evening from Kumarakam near Kottayam and it was intercepted by CITU supporters at R block region in Vembanad lake Wednesday morning.

“Four persons from CITU forcibly anchored the boat. We told them the tourists are government guests and the tourism industry was exempt. But, they did not heed. They released the boat after political higher-ups intervened,’’ a staff on the boat said.

State Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surenderan termed it a “highly deplorable” act. “I tender apology for the inconvenience caused to him.’’

Police have booked four persons.