Meet Viveik Patel, the 26-year-old Indian American who raised nearly $1 million on Facebook to help Pulwama soldiers’ families

Viveik Patel
Viveik Patel; image via Facebook

Nearly 25,000 people have contributed through Patel’s Facebook fundraising page.

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The death of over 45 Indian Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in Pulwama, in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, last week, triggered a massive outpouring of sympathy for the affected families from people around the world. While many organizations, celebs and individuals did their bit by offering condolences to the soldiers’ families and, in some cases, making financial contributions, a young Indian American from Virginia set a stellar example.

Viveik Patel, a business analyst based in Richmond, Virginia, resolved to do something for his country of origin and the soldiers who laid their lives for it. The a 26-year-old floated a fundraiser on Facebook, after he tried donating on the Indian government’s website “Bharat Ke Veer” but realized that it did not accept US credit or debit cards.

Patel, who immigrated from Vadodra, in Gujarat, started the fundraising drive, “Indian Army – Pulwama Attack,” the same day of the strike, on February 14, and initially set a goal of $500,000. He sent out the word to his network and also connected with Facebook managers for the effort.

The initiative struck the chord with a large number of Indian Americans, and in less than 24 hours, he was able to reach more than half of his goal money. Even after reaching the goal, donations have not subsided and money continued to pour in.

As of 2:30 pm EST on Friday, the initiative has raised $969,123 with donations from 24,933 people.

Patel told the American Bazaar that he’s hopeful he’ll be able to hit the million dollar mark by the end of the day.

“When I started I only had the intention to do something,” he said. “I am thankful to people who made it so big and especially the silent supporters who donated without a doubt.”

Recognizing his exceptional efforts, on Thursday, Patel was invited by the Indian Consulate in New York, where he met with Consul General Sandeep Chakravorty and his deputy. They discussed with him how the funds can be transferred to India safely and swiftly distributed to the soldiers.

Chakravorty, after meeting with the Richmond resident, tweeted support to the initiative. The tweet read: “We are delighted to support the initiative of Viveik Patel (center) & friends who have raised on @facebook almost U$ 1 million from about 24,000 donors to help the families of the martyrs of the #PulwamaTerrorAttack. We discussed the best way to transfer money to @BharatKeVeer”

Patel said he plans to keep the fundraiser going until the consulate finds a way to transfer the money to India. “We plan to transfer the money to each of soldiers’ families and for consulate to transfer the funds to India, they need to have an NGO in between,” he said. “They are going to choose an NGO that has worked with them in the past and once things are final, the money will reach where it belongs.”

Patel, who works at the business development company Conduent, explained how he built such a big momentum. “I am a part of a lot of Facebook groups across New Jersey and Virginia, and I also have a large number of Facebook friends,” he said. “While my friends knew me and trusted me, of course we had concerns where many people asked how I plan to transfer the funds. But when friends and their friends continued to donate, a chain was created and we were able to get everyone. I am glad that now with the consulate and their support everyone can be assured that the money is going to reach to the right hands.”

Patel’s initiative also brought to the notice of Indian authorities an important point. The website they launched for crowd funding, Bharat Ke Veer, does not accept international cards, so people outside India cannot rely on it. In situations like this, India needs to build have a website or a platform that can accept foreign donations, too.

Realizing that many Indian Americans were facing this problem, the Indian Consulate in New York posted on its Facebook page information for members of the diaspora that want to make donations.  It wrote: [Those] “who wish to contribute to the cause but are facing difficulty in contributing through the website bharatkeveer.gov.in as they do not have Indian credit cards can contribute through check drawn in favor of ‘’Bharat Ke Veer,” which can be sent directly to the CRPF headquarters.”

2 Comments

  1. You need not raise money for soldiers’ families; Indian government should do that who use them to subdue Kashmiri people.
    You ask yourself if these people want to remain with India. If yes, help them, as they want.
    Too much blood has been shed; both innocent Kashmiris and Indian soldiers have suffered and let us all work to end this stupidity.
    What difference it makes for India if Kashmir is an independent country, a state of India or even join Pakistan?
    India is very much wrong occupying Kashmir by force and oppressing people because they want freedom and despise Indian occupation.
    Do you remember (Perhaps, you don’t even know) what Nehru promised to Kashmiri people on 02 Nov 1947?
    “Fate of the State of Jammu & Kashmir is ultimately to be decided by the people. The pledge we have given not only to people of Kashmir but also to the world. We will not and cannot back out of it”.
    He again said on 25 Nov 1947 in Indian parliament:
    “We have suggested that when people of Kashmir are given a chance to decide their future, this should be done under the supervision of an impartial tribunal such as United Nations Organization”.
    You have earned your living and bread in USA. Don’t waste it for a wrong cause. Use it to organize a plebiscite in Kashmir if you can and act, as the Kashmiri people want. Or, give it to American poor. Otherwise, you become a collaborator for a sinful cause. You need not fight India-Pakistan was in America.

    • I would say the same of Pakistan. Now if you are not a Pakistani using an alias to post here, I will tell you that Pakistan illegally occupied a large part of Kashmir in 1948. J&K wholly and entirely belongs to India. We will take the illegally occupied part back and annex it with the rest of the country. Pakistan should “let it go” if it wants any peace. Pakistan can not tolerate not afford war, India can. Pakistan will not receive international backing, not after harboring Osama bin laden for 11 years safely, India will. Pakistan will never win a war with India. It never has. There will be no referendum on Kashmir, ever. Keep that in mind.

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