Elvish Yadav case: Lethal side of snake venom as a ‘recreational drug’ | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Elvish Yadav case: Lethal side of snake venom as a 'recreational drug'

By | Edited by Aniruddha Dhar
Nov 03, 2023 07:38 PM IST

Using snake venom as a recreational drug is an uncommon and highly dangerous practice in India, carrying potentially life-threatening risks.

Noida police on Friday arrested Elvish Yadav, a Big Boss winner and popular YouTuber, along with five others, on charges of allegedly using “snake venom” at rave parties. However, Yadav has denied these allegations and expressed his willingness to cooperate with the police during the investigation.

Elvish Yadav, a Big Boss winner and popular YouTuber, was arrested along with five others on Friday on charges of allegedly using "snake venom" at rave parties.
Elvish Yadav, a Big Boss winner and popular YouTuber, was arrested along with five others on Friday on charges of allegedly using "snake venom" at rave parties.

According to police, a total of nine snakes, including cobras, were rescued from the individuals arrested. They had gathered at a banquet hall in Noida's Sector 51 for a party, unaware that it was a sting operation set up by the animal rights group People for Animals (PFA).

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Additionally, the police confiscated a plastic bottle containing 20 milliliters of snake venom from the accused. This substance is currently undergoing testing to determine whether it possesses psychotropic properties that can induce a drug-like effect on the human body.

Using snake venom as a recreational drug is an uncommon and highly dangerous practice in India, carrying potentially life-threatening risks.

What does the FIR say?

An FIR has been registered by the police based on a complaint filed by Gaurav Gupta from People for Animals (PFA), an organisation affiliated with BJP parliamentarian Maneka Gandhi. The FIR was filed under the provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act and for alleged criminal conspiracy.

According to DCP Noida (in-charge) Ram Badan Singh, Gaurav Gupta contacted Elvish Yadav to organise a rave party and to arrange for snakes, leading to the accused being brought into the situation, including snake charmers.

The possession of drugs, including substances like snake venom or other controlled substances, are regulated by the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1985. However, in this particular case, the NDPS Act has not been invoked since no drugs were discovered at the scene, as confirmed by an official.

What is a rave party?

A rave party is an energetic, night-long electronic dance music event featuring immersive music, elaborate lighting, and a strong sense of community. These gatherings take place in various settings, with farmhouses being a common choice.

However, in India, the legality of such parties becomes a concern due to issues related to drug usage, noise disturbances, safety hazards, and public order violations. Consequently, the government has taken steps to address and even prohibit such events.

How dangerous is snake venom as a ‘recreational drug’?

Substances like tobacco, cannabis, and opium have been long used for their mind-altering effects in recreational contexts. However, it may come as a surprise that derivatives from reptiles such as snakes, reptiles, and scorpions can also be utilised for recreational purposes, sometimes serving as substitutes for other substances. Let us delve into the potential risks associated with these practices.

The Indian Journal of Pharmacology and Physiology discusses a case in which a teenager's “snake venom addiction” and his involvement in organising rave parties for this purpose were studied. In this instance, he followed instructions to inject chemicals into a snake, provided by friends, in an attempt to enhance the effects of snake venom. After deliberately being bitten by the snake on his tongue following the consumption of cannabis, he reported feeling drowsy for a few hours, followed by an extended period of elevated happiness, an enhanced sense of well-being, and reduced desire for sleep lasting “a week”.

Based on the case the jounrnal further explains

- According to the journal, individuals attempting this form of abuse are primarily adolescents, although adults occasionally engage in it as well. They often display a strong dependence on multiple substances and seek to maintain a continuous “state of euphoria” (state of great happiness).

- Obtaining a snakebite seems to follow a specific method. The person responsible for the snakes holds the snake near its head, just beyond the lip margin. A sharp strike to the snake's head with a blunt object prompts it to bite. Care is taken to ensure that the snake inflicts only a minimal bite on the individual's little toe or index finger, resulting in minimal envenomation. Subsequently, the snakebite is administered on the individual's lip, tongue, or earlobes, depending on their preferences.

- Snakebites are typically obtained from nomadic tribespeople, slum snake charmers, and involve snake species such as the common krait (Bungarus caeruleus), cobra (Naja naja), green snake (Opheodrys vernalis), rat snake, and green vine.

- The psychotropic effects following a snakebite vary from one individual to another. Common symptoms include an increased sense of well-being, lethargy, a heightened sense of grandiosity, blurred vision, dizziness, drowsiness, and intense and persistent euphoria. This state of intense arousal is also commonly experienced.

- Upon entering the human bloodstream, snake venom releases active metabolites such as serotonin, bradykinin, peptides, prostaglandins, and other slow-reacting substances, each with various psychotropic effects, including hypnotic and sedative properties.

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