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'Slumdog' Star's Father in Adoption Scandal

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Apr 19, 2009 | 11:33am EDT

Slumdog Millionaire child star Rubina Ali is at the center of sensational newspaper claims that her father has offered her up for sale -- for $300,000.

The 9-year-old's dad, Rafiq Qureshi, allegedly put his daughter on the market for the huge sum -- and blamed her movie-star status for his decision to sell her.

Qureshi was approached at his home in Mumbai, India, by an undercover reporter for British newspaper The News of the World who claimed to be acting on behalf of a wealthy Arab sheik who wanted to adopt the child.

Qureshi told the journalist, "We are considering Rubina's future. Obviously if you wanted to adopt we could discuss this, but her parents would also expect some proper compensation in return. We are talking of around £50,000 for this to happen. We can discuss everything about this deal when we meet. There's a lot of interest in Rubina, she's become very famous."

But in a further call, he allegedly told the reporter he planned to sell his daughter to the highest bidder -- and expected $300,000 (£200,000) from the sale.

And Qureshi's brother declared, "The child is special now. This is NOT an ordinary child. This is an Oscar child!"

A source tells the newspaper, "Rubina's family are furious that despite the film doing so well and their pretty daughter becoming so famous, they are still living in such rough conditions... Dad Rafiq is streetwise and knows that soon his daughter's success will be forgotten and her moment of fame will be over. He has a family to feed and simply can't afford it. He is keen to find a rich family to bring up Rubina but only if they are willing to help the whole family to get out of the slums."

Officials at children's charities have expressed their concern over the case, and have pledged to help Ali.

Save The Children's Adrian Lovett says, "Save the Children pays tribute to The News of the World for highlighting this awful reality. We will do all we can to help Rubina."

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