Panchkula (Haryana): A CBI special court on Friday held controversial Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh guilty of raping and sexually exploiting two female disciples.

The sect chief was taken into custody following his conviction by trial court judge Jagdeep Singh. Soldiers who had been deployed earlier immediately rushed into the court here and took charge of the complex.

The verdict was announced amid unprecedented security. The sentence will be pronounced by the court on Monday.

The sect chief was present in the court when the judgment was read out in Panchkula town in Haryana, adjoining Chandigarh.

Court sources said the self-styled godman stood inside the court with his hands folded in prayer and his eyes closed when the judge started reading the verdict.

Outside the court, tens of thousands of supporters were massed. So were thousands of security personnel.

Once the verdict was given, Ram Rahim Singh was examined by doctors. Informed sources he would be taken to the military complex at Chandi Mandir in Panchkula.

The rape victims, despite threats and pressures all along, stood their ground on rape and sexual harassment allegations during the nearly 15-year-long hearing of the matter in court.

A pall of gloom descended among the thousands of followers as the verdict became known. In no time, some of them began attacking media personnel.