The world woke up to shocking news yesterday morning when British tabloid News of The World reported that Slumdog Millionaire star Rubina Ali was being offered on sale by her father. Fans of the movie and child rights activists all over the country were outraged at the news.
HT City tried to get to the bottom of the story and spoke with Rubina’s family. They say, “it is not us but the media which is capitalising on her fame”.
News of The World reported that the child star’s father, Rafiq Qureshi, offered to sell her for £200,000 to their undercover reporter posing as a wealthy sheikh. Qureshi reportedly said, “We have got nothing out of this film (Slumdog millionaire)”. Qureshi’s brother Mohiuddin has been quoted as saying: “The child is special now. This is NOT an ordinary child. This is an Oscar child!” Rubina was present when the deal was being fixed at a Mumbai hotel last week.
However, Rubina’s family claims that nothing of this sort happened. Dinesh Dubey, a close friend and a freelance journalist was present at the hotel when the meeting took place. “The said sheikh and his wife had been calling us since the Oscars saying that they are childless and that the two have taken a liking to Rubina. Rafiq bhai would never sell his daughter. Rafiq told the couple that if they are so fond of the child, he will definitely make them meet her. He told them, ‘Aapko bachche ko pyaar karna hai, to kar lo’ But we didn’t sell our child,” said Dubey.
He adds that while Rafiq is sick of answering calls and giving explanations Rubina is undisturbed. “She was laughing and said, ‘Uncle yeh kya tension mein aa gayi media meri wajah se.’”
Leena Singh of designer duo Ashima Leena, for whom Rubina walked the ramp earlier in the year says she can’t believe her father would do something like this. “Why will he speak this way. He was very protective about Rubina. He always wanted to be with her — even when we went to buy shoes for her or took her for make up. If he has said something like this, it’s because he is illiterate and is being exploited. If the government gives them proper housing and facilities, nothing like this will happen. They live in a 6 ft/6 ft house with a plastic sheet on top.”
Sheetal Mehta of Nanhi Kali an NGO that works for child education says, “If this incident has indeed happened it is shocking, but ultimately, the root cause of all this is poverty and illiteracy.”