New Delhi: Nobel Laureate and renowned biophysicist Michael Levitt, who was on a three-day visit to Kerala, was on Wednesday (January 8) halted for hours, by Left-wing trade union activists from Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) during the nationwide strike, in the backwaters of Alappuzha, Kerala.

Reportedly, the American-British-Israeli biophysicist and a professor of structural biology at the Stanford University in the United States, was stranded in a houseboat in Alappuzha along with his wife when protesters forcefully stopped their boat from leaving for more than three hours.

The CITU protesters threatened the crew of the boat and refused to let them go.

Writing an email to his tour agent at Kottayam, Levitt said, "It was 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 acting knowing that he is safe from prosecution. Sadly, this makes me fear that India is sinking into lawlessness." 

According to Sreekumar, the owner of the houseboat Lake View, in which Michael Levitt and his wife travelled told reporters that he started his journey from Kumarakom in Kottayam district on Tuesday evening. 

"The boat was blocked by supporters of the strike in Alappuzha by 10:30 am, and the boat could continue its journey only by 12," he said.

The boat owner said that Levitt was distraught after the incident and did not even speak with the boat crew after it.

However, Kerala tourism minister Kadakampally Surendran said that the higher authorities would take intense action against those anti-social elements who blocked the boat. 

"Levitt was here as a state government guest. We will also look into whether there were any lapses in providing security to him," he added.