Noida | The Noida Police has booked Bigg Boss winner Elvish Yadav and arrested five people for the alleged use of snake venom at rave parties, officials said on Friday.
Yadav, a popular YouTuber and social media influencer, refuted the charges and expressed his willingness to cooperate with the police in the investigation.
Nine snakes, including cobras, were also rescued from the possession of those arrested, who had landed at a banquet hall in Sector 51 on Thursday for a party, which was a trap laid by animal rights group People for Animals (PFA), officials said.
Police seized 20 millilitres of snake venom stored in a plastic bottle from the possession of the accused and it has been sent for testing to ascertain if it is psychotropic in nature to induce a party drug-like effect in the human body.
An FIR was lodged under the provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act and for criminal conspiracy following a complaint by Gaurav Gupta of PFA, run by BJP parliamentarian Maneka Gandhi, against six people, including Yadav, for partying at the banquet hall where snake venom was made available, police said.
Gupta claimed that Yadav, who won the second season of the OTT version of reality show Bigg Boss this year, along with his associates illegally organised rave parties and shot videos with snakes and snake venom in Noida and other parts of NCR.
According to a police spokesperson, "Five people were arrested from the banquet hall and nine snakes were rescued from their possession".
Those held have been identified as Rahul (32), Teetunath (45), Jaikaran (50), Narayan (50) and Ravinath (45), all residents of Moharband village in southeast Delhi's Badarpur, police said.
DCP Noida (as in-charge) Ram Badan Singh said, "In his complaint, Gaurav Gupta claimed he had contacted Elvish Yadav for a rave party and to arrange snakes. Gupta was then given the phone number of Rahul Yadav after which these people (accused), including snake charmers and Rahul Yadav, were called".
"A team of forest officers and police had gone to the spot and these five people were arrested while 20 ml snake venom was also seized,” Singh, also the DCP (anti-narcotics cell), added.
Meanwhile, 26-year-old Elvish Yadav took to social media to refute the charges against him, dubbing them "baseless, fake and not even 1 per cent true".
"I am ready to fully cooperate with the UP police. I also request the UP police, administration and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath that if my involvement is found, I will take full responsibility," Yadav said, adding he has nothing to do with the case.
Divisional Forest Officer Pramod Kumar Srivastava said five cobras, two sand boas, one python and one rat snake -- all falling in the category of endangered species -- were rescued during the action.
"The charges framed in the case under the Wildlife (Protection) Act are stringent which are non-bailable and can attract a jail term of seven years. The snake venom seized from the accused has been sent for a lab test to ascertain its quality," Srivastava told PTI, explaining the severity of the crime.
An official source said even in illegal acts like these, thugs often dupe party organisers and participants by providing them non-psychotropic substances in the name of snake venom.
The use of snake venom as a recreational drug is not a common practice in India and is considered extremely dangerous and potentially life-threatening.
The use and possession of drugs, including substances derived from snake venom or any other controlled substances, are governed by the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1985.
However, the NDPS Act has not been invoked in this case as drugs were not found at the incident spot, according to an official.
A rave party is a vibrant, all-night EDM gathering with immersive music, lighting and a communal vibe. They're held in diverse locations, with farmhouses being a popular choice. In India, legal issues arise due to drug use, noise, safety, and public order violations, leading to government measures and bans on it.