By Adam B. Vary
Updated April 21, 2009 at 05:37 AM EDT

The father of Slumdog Millionaire child star Rubina Ali denies a story by British paper News of the World that he tried to sell his daughter for $300,000, reports Rafiq Qureshi confirmed he did meet with prospective adoptive parents looking to buy Ali–who turned out to be News of the World reporters– but says he only entertained their offer out of social decorum. “In India,” Qureshi tells People, “you never say ‘no’ directly, least of all to guests. You try not to offend people by refusing to help.” Qureshi’s second wife, Meena, tells People, “We are poor, yes, but not so poor that we have to sell our children. The whole thing is a lie.”

Update: Indian police are now investigating the alleged attempt to sell Ali, following up on a complaint filed by the child’s mother, Khurshid Begum, the Associated Press reports. Ali’s father, Qureshi, refuted the allegations, speaking to reporters outside a Mumbai police station Sunday, after he was questioned. Qureshi asserts that he initially believed the alleged sale attempt was a ruse by his ex-wife to regain custody of Ali. Mumbai police have made no findings of fact on the complaint, with police officer Nishar Tamboli telling assembled journalists, “There are claims and counterclaims made by the mothers and thefather.…We are probingthe matter.”