Mirza Salim (Balraj Sahni) is a middle aged shoe manufacturer in Agra whose family like many other muslim families has been in the leather business for generations. But Partition shatters not only their flourishing business but also their family. Following the exodus of many of their colleagues Mirza Salim's brother, Halim, leaves for Pakistan with his wife and son Kazim with the promise that Kazim would return to marry Salim's daughter Amina (Gita Siddharth) after he had secured a job. Their ancestral house being in the eldest son Halim's name is declared evacuee property and claimed by a Sindhi Refugee. Salim and his family are forced to shift to a much smaller rented house nearby. Kazim gets a Scholarship to go to Canada and sneaks across the border to meet Amina before leaving. Their marriage is arranged but the police get a wind of it and he is whisked off in the middle of the ceremonies. Faced with stiff competition from the Hindu migrant traders who enter the leather Salim's business suffers. His sisters husband, Fakhruddin, is embroiled in a fraudulent transaction and skips across the border to escape his debts. His son, Shamshad (Jalal Agha), who has a soft corner for Amina and wants to marry her, also leaves with his father. Salim is shattered yet refuses to follow his relatives across the border. One day while going to his factory he is embroiled in a fight with a hand cart puller which turns into a minor communal riot. Salim's factory is an easy target and is set on fire and Salim sustains head injuries. Blamed for instigating the riot he is taken to the police station for questioning but released for lack of evidence. Meanwhile news of Shamshad's marriage to a girl in Pakistan drives Amina to suicide. Hounded by the other traders and called a spy Salim finally decides to migrate. But as he is enroute to the station he is stopped by aprocession of young people demanding jobs, bread and better education from the government. Among them is his second son Sikander (Farouque Sheikh) who has just graduated from college. Sikander refuses to give up and leave and Salim turns back and joins the procession of protesters.
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