Kerala

Nobel laureate has a brush with the strike

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Michael Levitt stranded in houseboat

Nobel laureate Michael Levitt and a fellow foreign traveller visiting Kuttanad had a harrowing experience on Wednesday after the houseboat they were travelling in was blocked by supporters of the nationwide general strike at C Block near here.

Mr. Levitt, on a visit to Kerala as a guest of the government, was stranded in the boat for more than two hours.

Prof. Levitt, an American-British-Israeli biophysicist, started cruising in a houseboat from Kumarakom in Kottayam on Tuesday and reached R Block by evening.

“As there was no protest on Wednesday, we set sail and reached C Block around 10.30 a.m. Then, strike supporters came in a boat and blocked our houseboat. We were forced to anchor the boat at C Block,” said a boat employee.

Sreekumar M.P., owner of the boat, said he filed an online complaint with the police. The boat was allowed to sail around 12.30 p.m. After completing the cruise, he would disembark at Kumarakom on Thursday.

Based on a complaint filed by the houseboat crew, the Pulinkunnu police registered a case against four persons under Sections 283, 342 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code.

No complaint

“We have met Michael Levitt. He told us that he has no complaint,” said an official.

Earlier, the coordination committee of trade unions that called the strike against the Union government’s labour policies had said the tourism industry would be exempted.

Meanwhile, Achuthsankar S. Nair, head, Department of Computational Biology and Bioinformatics at University of Kerala, in a Facebook post said Mr. Levitt had mailed him after the incident.

Fan of Kerala

“Prof. Michael Levitt, Nobel laureate, was a fan of Kerala till yesterday. Today, he was stopped from a pre-booked houseboat journey. He just mailed me this: I have been warned against protesting to the union people who are illegally enforcing the strike against the union declaration that “tourism is exempted”.

Still, this treatment of an official guest of the Kerala State Government is not good for tourism, the State of Kerala, or the Country of India,” reads the post by Mr. Achuthsankar.

Mr. Levitt received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2013 for the development of multi-scale models for complex chemical systems.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 7:29:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/nobel-laureate-has-a-brush-with-the-strike/article30517014.ece

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