Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Slumdog star's father 'injured'

The father of Slumdog Millionaire star Rubina Ali has been beaten up as authorities destroyed his slum in Mumbai (Bombay), his neighbours say.

They say that Rafiq Qureshi has been taken to hospital.

The railway authorities said the clearance was a routine exercise carried out to remove illegal structures from railway property.

Last week authorities demolished the home of Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, another Slumdog child actor.
'Soft encroachments'

"The railway authorities were clearing up the area and in the process they demolished Rubina's house also," Mohiddin, a relative, said.

"The clean-up drive is fine but there was a fight and Rafiq sustained injuries."

Neighbours say it is not yet clear if he has been badly injured.

The family lived in a slum adjoining the railway tracks near Bandra station in Mumbai. Rubina Ali played a younger version of the female lead in the film.

She was recently in the news for scoring high grades in her school exams.

"This exercise is carried out regularly at different stations. We removed soft encroachments near Bandra station today," said Western Railways spokesman C David.

"This land should be used for railway work, which in turn should benefit the commuter."

Last week police were accused of "smacking" Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail with a bamboo stick before ordering him out.

The authorities claim he and other families were squatting on land that was owned by the government.

He too played a younger version of one of the main characters in the film, which scooped eight Oscars.

The families lived in a temporary shelter made up of plastic sheets over bamboo sticks.

Many claim they were not informed about the planned demolition and that help for new housing promised by local authorities and by the film's makers had not materialised.

Slumdog director Danny Boyle has strongly denied claims of exploitation.

The film makers have set up funds to pay for the young actors' education and they have been enrolled in school for the first time.

They also recently announced that they will donate $776,294 (£500,000) to a charity which will help children living in the slums of Mumbai.

The film has made more than $200m (£140m) in box office takings around the world.