April 20, 2009 / 12:33 PM / 9 years ago

Reported sale of "Slumdog" child star probed

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Indian police in Mumbai are probing accusations that the father of a child star of the Oscar-winning film “Slumdog Millionaire” tried to sell his daughter for 200,000 pounds ($290,000).

<p>Azharuddin Ismail and Rubina Ali (L), actors in the film "Slumdog Millionaire", display outfits designed by Ashima Leena during a fashion show on the second day of India Fashion Week in New Delhi March 19, 2009. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi</p>

The mother of 9-year-old Rubina Ali protested after a sting operation by a British tabloid alleged her father tried to sell her.

Police called Rubina Ali and her father, Rafiq Qureshi, to a police station on Sunday night and recorded their statements.

“On Sunday, Rubina’s mother Khurshid complained to us that her ex-husband was trying to sell her daughter, saying she saw some reports on television to that effect,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Nisar Tamboli told Reuters.

The film, a rags-to-riches romance about a slum boy competing on a TV game show, won eight Academy Awards earlier this year but sparked controversy in parts of India.

The sting operation by the News of the World quickly made headlines in India.

<p>Cast member Rubina Ali from the movie "Slumdog Millionaire" holds the Oscar belonging to director Danny Boyle at the official Oscar after party for Fox Searchlight's "Slumdog Millionaire" and "The Wrestler" in Los Angeles, February 22, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>

Rubina, who starred as the youngest incarnation of the film’s heroine, Latika, lives with her father and step-mother in a teeming slum in the suburbs of the financial hub.

Rubina’s family denied they were willing to sell her.

“We never thought that we would have to face this. We are poor people, for us, our children are everything. Why would we give her away like that?” Rubina’s uncle Moinuddin Qureshi said.

“This is just an attempt to malign her name. After all she has become world famous now, hasn’t she?” Qureshi added.

The film’s makers set up a fund for the education of Rubina Ali and her young co-star, Azharuddin Ismail. Authorities in Mumbai also said the state would give housing for the children.

The title raised an outcry and sparked protests in parts of India, because “Slumdog” was seen as derogatory to India’s millions of slum dwellers.

Writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Alistair Scrutton

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