Following allegations that the father of 9-year-old Indian actress Rubina Ali attempted to sell the "Slumdog Millionaire" co-star into adoption, the head of the charitable trust established by the filmmakers to support their child stars' welfare has spoken out.
"The Trust will support Rubina, her parents and responsible authorities to ensure the rights and best interests of Rubina are protected," said Noshir H. Dadrawala, chair of the Jai Ho Trust, in a statement to MTV News.
The Jai Ho Trust, which was set up with financial support from the "Slumdog" filmmakers, said it has been in regular contact with Rubina and her family and has hired a social worker to help look after her welfare and that of her co-star, Azharuddin Ismail. According to the trust, each family receives a monthly stipend for living costs, educational scholarships and a lump sum payment after the stars turn 18.
The allegations came to light after News of the World, a British tabloid, staged an undercover sting operation in which reporters posed as a wealthy family from Dubai interested in adopting Rubina. Her father, Rafiq Qureshi, was said to ask for almost $400,000 in exchange for his daughter. Qureshi has since denied any involvement in such a scheme.
"Well, we had gone there to meet [the News of the World reporters] in good will, but they have made false allegations about me and tried to frame me," Qureshi told reporters outside the Mumbai police station, where he and his daughter had been taken for questioning. "I have told the police that they had called me and my family there to frame us wrongly, and they have presented this in a different way."
"I like being with my father," Rubina Ali told reporters.
But according to The Sun, Qureshi was arrested after police in Mumbai launched an investigation into the matter, following a complaint filed by Khurshid Begum, Rubina's estranged mother. And in a bizarre twist, footage has surfaced of what appears to be Rubina's mother and stepmother brawling in the streets of Mumbai.
In its statement, the Jai Ho Trust requested that "the media consider the possible negative impacts of recent media scrutiny on 9-year-old Rubina, and assist in protecting her interests through sensitive reporting to limit further unnecessary exploitation of her rights and interests."