New Delhi: A Qatar-based Hindu businessman is constructing a mosque in Kerala with the aim of promoting communal harmony. He claims it will be the first mosque to be built in the state by a Hindu in over 1,200 years.
"Construction is going on. The mosque will be ready in two-three months. Over 400 people can offer prayers in that mosque at a time," Cheril Krishna Menon, a prominent NRI businessman in the Gulf, said in an interview here.
The mosque is coming up in Kozhikode.
Menon said so far the Cheraman Mosque, constructed in the late eighth century by Chera ruler Rama Varma Kulashekhara, is the first and only mosque built by any Hindu in Kerala so far.
Menon, who is chairman and managing director of the Doha-headquartered Behzad Group of Companies, said he had taken approval from Muslim scholars and religious leaders for building the mosque.
"I have already taken letters from Muslim religious leaders and scholars. They are okay with it. God is one and people should respect and work for the promotion of other religions also," said Menon, who was awarded the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman in 2006 and Padma Shri in 2009 for social service. He was in India to attend the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas last weekend.
Menon said he would continue to work for the promotion of all major religions.
Besides building the mosque, he is involved in the establishment of a study centre in Thiruvananthapuram to spread awareness of the Bhagavad Gita.
He also plans to build a church in Kerala. "Once the mosque is ready, I will start work on the church. We have already identified the land but final decision is not taken yet," he added.
Menon, whose company operates in 13 countries, mainly in the Middle East, emphasised the need to promote the culture of philanthropy in India.
"Some people are already doing that, but a lot more needs to be done. Businesses are making money because of the common people. Every businessperson must give back to society a certain proportion of their earnings," said Menon, adding he spends nearly three percent of his earnings on philanthropic activities.
On his business expansion plans, Menon said his company will invest Rs.100 crore on aluminium and steel fabrication plants in Tamil Nadu.
"In the first phase, we are investing Rs.25 crore. Over the next four years, our plan is to invest Rs.100 crore in India," he said.
The Behzad Group is mainly focussed on fuel transportation by land and sea. The company recently ventured into steel manufacturing business.