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Slumdog Dad Cleared in Kid-Selling Case

Freida Pinto, Rubina Ali Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

As the father of a Slumdog Millionaire star can no doubt attest, the journey from rags to riches has nothing on the journey from guilty to innocent.

The slum-dwelling father of 9-year-old child actor Rubina Ali has been cleared by Indian officials of allegations he tried to broker the sale of his famous daughter in exchange for roughly $300,000.

Rafiq Qureshi was accused by the British tabloid News of the World of attempting to profit off his daughter's Oscar-winning renown after the paper set up a sting operation and had a reporter pose as the child-hungry rep of Arab royalty.

"So far there is no evidence of any offense, hence there is no registration of complaint and no arrest," Nisar Tamboli, a senior Mumbai police officer, told Reuters.

While police also said that the video footage obtained by the tabloid further failed to incriminate Qureshi, the investigation, for now, remains ongoing.

Shortly after the accusations were made, Ali's mother, whom Qureshi claims abandoned the family years ago, demanded an investigation take place. She was later caught on camera fighting in the slums with Ali's stepmother.

As for Qureshi, he has long proclaimed his innocence in the matter, claiming that the tabloid "tried to frame" him and had "played dirty."

Both he and Ali cooperated with the authorities' investigation, however, and were brought in for police questioning on Sunday night.

As for now, Slumdog Millionaire producers are expected to touch down in India next week to meet with the film's young stars, including Ali.

They have renewed their pledge in the wake of the headline-grabbing incident to do everything they can to protect their child actors, including establishing the Jai Ho Trust to provide education and living expenses for Ali and Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, and are actively looking for new homes for the families.

In the meantime, the trust has reportedly assigned an Indian social worker to monitor Ali's family situation and ensure the welfare of the child.

(Originally published on Apr. 22, 2009 at 10:40 a.m. PT)


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