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In 1947, after several months of supervising reservists assigned to maintain peace at Bhowani Junction station during British withdrawal from India, Col. Rodney Savage has been summoned to return to England. While many Indians pay tribute to the departing Savage, Victoria Jones, a woman of Anglo-Indian descent, kisses the colonel as he boards the train. When fellow passenger Gen. Agavy, who has arranged to have Savage travel in his car, asks the colonel about his stay at Bhowani Junction, Savage recounts the complicated story of being torn between his military duty and his love for Victoria: Savage is detailed to Bhowani just as the Indian Congress Party, who are Gandhi sympathizers, support a recent Indian navy mutiny by organizing a harmless but well organized disruption at the station to halt the rail service and push the English out of the country. As the Congress choke the railway station with crowds, the Communist resistance and their underground leader, Davay, see an opportunity to create a violent riot. During the confusion, local traffic superintendent Patrick Taylor, an Anglo-Indian, meets his childhood sweetheart Victoria, who has just returned from Delhi after serving four years in the Women's Auxiliary Corps of the Indian army. The new collector, a local Indian official named Govindaswami, informs Savage, Taylor and Victoria about Davay, explaining that the Soviet Union wants the Communist party to run the country after the English have left. Following the meeting, Savage, who is instantly attracted to Victoria, orders her to remain in service to the railway despite her protests. Soon after, Taylor and Victoria return home to her Indian mother and her English father, Thomas Jones, a train conductor. Over dinner, Taylor expresses his fear that government jobs given to the more privileged Anglo-Indians will not be available should the English leave. Infuriated, Victoria yells that, as Anglo-Indians, they must find their place in Indian society without help from the English, and flees to her bedroom. Taylor then tries to talk to her about their plans for marriage, but Victoria, torn between the two cultures, retorts that she might marry an Indian man instead. The next day, striking Congress members lie down on the tracks in order to halt an ammunition train. When the Communists incite the gathering crowd to violence, Savage disperses them at gunpoint. After gaining Govindaswami's approval, Savage then orders Indian lower caste "untouchables" to throw pails of slop from the restrooms at the demonstrators, who flee the tracks in humiliation and disgust. When Taylor laughs at Savage's clever ploy against the Indians, Victoria becomes so outraged she vows never to speak to him again. Savage soon receives word that ammunition has been stolen from the train and that Davay has incited mobs to loot and burn nearby towns. That night as bombs fall on Bhowani, Victoria is walking home on the train tracks when Lt. Graham McDaniel, a lecherous station worker, attempts to rape her. Fighting for her life, Victoria hits McDaniel with a bar of steel, instantly killing him. Indian co-worker Ranjit Kasal finds Victoria beside the dead man and helps her to his house, where his mother, the Sandani, forbids her to tell the truth, assuming that the English would blame her son, an Indian, for the murder in order to save the military's reputation. Sandani reprimands Victoria for not dressing like an Indian and expresses her wish that Victoria marry Ranjit. Ghan Shyam, a guest in Sandani's home, then offers to hide McDaniel's body. Convinced that she must embrace Indian life, Victoria dresses in a sari and begins publicly dating Ranjit, hoping her admiration of his traditions will turn into love. One day, military investigator George Lansom questions Victoria about the night of the murder and shows her a picture of Ghan Shyam, whom he identifies as Davay. Victoria claims to know nothing of either McDaniel or Davay. A few weeks later, when Ranjit asks Victoria to join him in becoming a Sikh and marry him, she accepts and begins studying the religion. When the strike is finally halted, Davay blows up a passenger train using the stolen explosives, causing dozens of deaths and injuries. Receiving orders to assist in the rescue effort, Victoria arrives at the wreck but is paralyzed by the horror surrounding her. Later, Ranjit and Victoria realize they cannot turn in Davay, who is still living with them under the name Ghan Shyam, for fear of implicating Sandani in Communist organizing and Victoria in McDaniel's death. Days later, Lansom questions Victoria again and tells her they have found the body of a sentry along with McDaniel's. During her wedding to Ranjit at a Sikh temple, conflicting voices fill Victoria's head with doubts and compel her to flee. Deciding to leave the city for a few days, she catches a ride on her father's next run, where Savage offers to share his cabin with her. Desperate to clear her conscience for both McDaniel's and the sentry's deaths, Victoria finally admits to killing McDaniel in self-defense and to knowing Davay's location. Savage believes her, but insists she admit the truth to the authorities and reveal Ranjit and Sandani's involvement. After Victoria is found innocent of the murder, Savage takes her out to celebrate and a romance soon develops between the officer and his subordinate. Within weeks, after Savage is ordered to return to England, Victoria rejects his offer to join him, claiming that she wants to find her place in India. Late one night, Davay kidnaps Victoria and secretly takes her aboard a freight train car heading out of town. Taylor, having heard that the train made an unscheduled stop, questions a railway man and learns that the car stopped near Victoria's home. When he finds Victoria's bed empty and goes to Savage's home, both men quickly realize Victoria must be aboard the train and race in a jeep to head off it off. Davay binds and gags Victoria, ties dynamite to his body and jumps off the train in a tunnel. When Savage stops the train at the other end of the tunnel, they find Victoria and learn that Davay is still inside the tunnel. As he follows Savage into the tunnel with guns drawn, the brave but naïve Taylor runs ahead with his flashlight and is shot by Davay. With help from Taylor's light, Savage kills Davay and then cradles the dying Taylor in his arms. As a train passes through the tunnel, Savage spots Mahatma Gandhi and realizes that Davay's attempt to kill India's new leader was narrowly averted. Within days, as he prepares to leave India, a love-struck Savage asks Victoria to join him in England as his wife, but she claims to belong to India. When Savage promises to leave the army and return to India to live with her, Victoria is overjoyed. Back on the train leaving India, Gen. Agavy offers to help Savage get an early military release, insisting that it is the least he could do.