The gloves came off when Rubina Ali’s mother got wind of an alleged plot to sell her daughter to the highest bidder.
Rafiq Qureshi, father of the 9-year-old Slumdog Millionaire actress, has adamantly denied a British tabloid report that he agreed to part with Rubina in exchange for about $300,000, but the child’s biological mother doesn’t sound as if she believes his side of the story.
“He should be punished…No father should dare sell his daughter,” Rubina’s mom, Khurshid, angrily told reporters, according to a translation from BBC News, which shot video of her getting into a shoving match with Rubina’s stepmom.
Indian authorities are investigating the matter, but no charges have been filed.
“They have made false allegations about me and tried to frame me,” Qureshi told several news outlets, referring to the U.K. tabloid News of the World, where the story of his alleged unsavory business deal originated.
Rubina is still living with her dad and stepmother—and that’s just fine, she told the BBC. The child did say, however, that she’s hoping to act her way out of their current living conditions.
“We’re all disgusted by this place,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Danny Boyle-supported Jai Ho Trust, set up in the wake of Slumdog’s success to finance better lives for the film’s young stars, said in a statement Tuesday that it continues to look out for Rubina and the others.
“The trust is in regular contact with Rubina Ali and her family and has hired a social worker to assist in looking after her welfare and that of her costar [Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail],” a Jai Ho rep told E! News. “The Trust will support Rubina, her parents and responsible authorities, to ensure that the rights and best interests of Rubina are protected.”
Jai Ho has promised “suitable” accomodations, a monthly stipend for their families and education costs for Rubina, Azharuddin and their siblings.
“The Jai Ho Trust requests the media consider the possible negative impacts of the recent media scrutiny on 9-year-old Rubina,” the statement continued, “and assist in protecting her interests through sensitive reporting to limit further unnecessary exploitation of her rights and interests.”