Bigg Boss OTT winner Elvish Yadav has been at the centre of a controversy over the alleged use of snake venom at a rave party organised by him in Uttar Pradesh's Noida on 2 November.
Yadav was booked on Friday, 3 November, and five others arrested by the Noida Police after the latter allegedly found nine snakes, including five cobras, and snake poison during a raid at his residence. Officials claimed that Yadav had been inviting foreigners for rave parties and providing the venom of poisonous snakes to them as a recreational drug.
A First Information Report (FIR) was filed against the YouTuber on charges of criminal conspiracy and sections of the Wildlife (Protection) Act following a complaint by NGO People for Animals, which is run by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Maneka Gandhi. The offence, which is non-bailable, could attract a jail term of up to seven years.
A picture of him holding a snake has also been going viral on social media, thus fueling the controversy. However, Yadav claimed that the image is actually a screenshot from a music video.
Who Is Elvish Yadav?
Hailing from Gurugram, Yadav gained popularity as a YouTuber, in which capacity he would organise public meetups with fans – videos of which were shared widely across his social media handles.
The 26-year-old began his YouTube career in 2016 through a channel called 'The Social Factory', which focused primarily on conceptual short films and flash fiction. He later changed the name of the channel to 'Elvish Yadav'.
Three years later, he started another YouTube channel called 'Elvish Yadav Vlogs’, on which he would upload videos critiquing films with his family and close friends. His third YouTube channel, called 'Elvish Yadav Gaming', was launched this year.
His channels have 14.6 million subscribers and his videos over a billion views.
However, he shot to country-wide fame after winning the popular Salman Khan-hosted show Bigg Boss OTT Season 2 in 2023, despite entering the competition as a wild card-entrant.
Other than his social media channels, Yadav is the owner of two fashion brands – Systumm Clothing and Elgro Women, and runs an NGO called Elvish Yadav Foundation, which purportedly focuses on providing education and free meals to underprivileged sections of society.
No Stranger to Controversy
The snake venom row is not the first controversy the singer-YouTuber has been involved in.
In many of his videos, he takes to roasting celebrities as well as social media influencers. In one of his videos, he had compared youngsters scavenging discarded items on TikTok as "ragpickers".
He also received criticism for making alleged sexist and misogynistic statements against comedian Kusha Kapila and a few other women in one of his videos, which many said amounted to online abuse.
In February this year, suspicions were raised that Yadav was involved in the theft of flower pots in Gurugram. A video depicting the theft had gone viral on social media, and several people pointed out that a luxury car used by the thieves was associated with Yadav.
He also courted controversy after appearing as a guest on actor Shehnaaz Gill’s talk show, during which he said that he had not received the Rs 25 lakh winning amount from Bigg Boss yet. His comments came after Gill asked him when he will buy his next phone.
He had also been called out be several people, including Bigg Boss OTT host Salman Khan himself, for allegedly using derogatory language against women contestants on the show.
In yet another case, Yadav filed an FIR in October this year with the Gurugram Police claiming that he had received an extortion call from someone with demands for Rs 1 crore.
Actor Swara Bhasker had in 2021 lodged a complaint against Yadav, claiming that he was trying to tarnish her reputation. Bhasker said that Yadav had taken to distorting one of her scenes from the film Veere Di Wedding and had used sexist hashtags targeted against her across social media platforms, SheThePeople reported.
In July 2020, the YouTuber stirred another controversy over one of his tweets, which read, "Ghar me ek bartan dhone wale ki zarurat hai. Salman Khan ke fans k liye employment hum create kardenge. Aajaoo salary bhi milegi (Need a woman to wash dishes in my house. We will create employment opportunities for the fans of Salman Khan. You will get salary as well).
Meanwhile, Yadav has released a statement denying all the allegations against him in the snake venom case as "baseless".
"I will take the responsibility if even 1 percent of my involvement in this is proved. Media should also stay away from defaming me unless my involvement is probed," he said in a video statement.
He also said that he would fully cooperate with the Noida Police during the course of their investigation in the case.