The father of nine-year-old Slumdog Millionaire star Rubina Ali has been arrested for allegedly trying to sell her to an undercover reporter—but he says he's innocent, and it's all a setup. What's going on?
News of the World set up the sting on Rubina's father, and its story said he was ready and willing to sell his daughter to what he thought was a wealthy Middle Eastern family. But the dad, Rafiq Qureshi, says he wasn't being serious:
Qureshi tells PEOPLE that there had been an offer but insisted that he had feigned interest out of politeness and a reluctance to appear cold and unfriendly. He said, "In India, you never say 'no' directly, least of all to guests. You try not to offend people by refusing to help. They said they were childless and desperately fond of Rubina after seeing her in the film. I felt sorry for them, but I was never going to give her up."
He also told the Times of India "The voice (asking for money) in the video is not mine. It is a conspiracy to take my girl from me. My former wife Khurshid is involved." Some family members back him up, and Rubina herself does too—she told People "I will never give any foreign journalist an interview again."
Smart girl! But there doesn't seem to be any rock solid proof either way yet. News of the World has excerpts of a video of the meeting, but without sound. The Indian police are reportedly "anxious" to obtain the full video, though, and if they do then presumably this whole thing can be settled.
In any case we can all agree that you shouldn't sell your kid.