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Police investigate 'Slumdog' star for sale claims

POLICE in Mumbai are investigating allegations that the father of a child star of the Oscar-winning film "Slumdog Millionaire" tried to sell his daughter for 200,000 pounds (US$290,000).

The mother of 9-year-old Rubina Ali went to the police after a sting operation by a British tabloid newspaper claimed that her father had 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 said.

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 across the nation.

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 provide 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.


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