(DIYA TV) — Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-New York, announced her intent to join the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans. She made the announcement on Feb. 5, while attending a meeting of the Indian American Voters Forum.

She told the crowd her decision to join the Caucus after hearing the story of Sureshbhai Patel. While visiting from India, Patel was out for a walk in an Alabama neighborhood when a police officer approached him and slammed him to the ground before placing him under arrest. That police officer has since been fired, and has faced two separate criminal trials for the use of excessive force—both trials ended with hung jury mistrials, and the case was ultimately dismissed in January.

For Rice, fostering the continued development of the relationship between the U.S. and India was paramount in her decision to join the Caucus.

“I have joined the Indian American Caucus to ensure that we can do everything we can do to keep the relation between India and America as strong as we can,” she said.

Indian Consul General in New York Dyaneshwar Mulay led the meeting, used to promote the growth of the House India Caucus, the largest Caucus of the House with more than 180 members. The meeting was held in the home of Varinder Bhalla, chairman of the voters forum.

“Right now, this is the relationship (India and U.S.) that seems to be the most flourishing of all the countries,” Mulay said at the meeting—President Obama has visited India three times since taking office back in 2008.

Focusing on politics domestic to India, Mulay described why he feels Prime Minister Modi is a “proactive” leader for the country.

“For example, on the defense side, we have decided not just to become the largest buyer of defense equipment and technology, but to co-produce in India and it has created an enormous opportunity for connecting with each other,” he said.

Mulay added: “The partnership between two countries connects almost every considerable facility. And the Caucus being there helps.”

Also in attendance at the meeting were Rep. Grace Meng, D-New York, already a member of the Caucus, and New York state Senator Jack Martins, who is currently running for a Congressional seat, and has pledged to join the Caucus if elected to the House. The Caucus is chaired by Re. Ami Bera, D-Calif.—the lone Indian American in the House of Representatives—and Rep. George Holding, R-North Carolina. Both men were appointed to form the Caucus in Dec. 2014.