An old naming tradition, land acquisition and resettlement for the construction of New Delhi, and “corruption” by local tongues coalesced to give us Jangpura — named after Delhi’s Deputy Commissioner in the early 20th Century, Mr Young.
Before the construction of the new British capital in Delhi could begin, a crucial step was acquiring land. The centre of this newly acquired land was over 13,000 acres — today’s Lutyens’ Delhi — where government buildings would be constructed. This expanse of land included semi-urban areas, cultivated land and scattered ruins, writes Dr Swapna Liddle, convenor, INTACH, in her book Connaught Place and the Making of New Delhi.
Some of those who were displaced by this acquisition were given plots in new resettlement enclaves to build houses. One of these was located to the southeast of the upcoming capital and named after Mr Young.
According to Dr Narayani Gupta, a historian, settlements with the suffix ‘pur’ help identify those settlements which derived their names from nobles who received land as revenue units from rulers.
She writes that many of these go back to the 15th Century, when the Lodhi rulers gave such land grants to a large number of nobles. This practice reflects in the names of places like Badarpur and Mahipalpur, named after persons, or Wazirpur or Ghazipur, named after official positions.
Naming a ‘pur’ after Mr Young, an active agent in the creation of the settlement in question, is a 20th Century adaptation of that practice – somewhere between the western modern concept of naming roads in commemoration of persons and an older practice of naming roads after people who had a direct relationship with them.
Young-pura eventually morphed into Jangpura in the tongues of locals. According to Dr Liddle, this “corruption” and change took place early in the life of the settlements. “In some documents dating as early as 1927 that I was looking through, I found that some referred to it as Young-pura and some as Jangpura,” she said.
As for the demography of the persons who were resettled in this enclave, Dr Liddle said, “Though we do not have a lot of information to go by, we can infer that it was a reasonably well-off populace — and not a labouring-class demographic — who shifted here. They built pucca houses in this area, developed in a grid layout.”