CHANDIGARH: Finally justice has caught up with Gurmeet Singh, 15 long years after he was accused of raping women in his ashram. A special CBI court at Panchkula, Chandigarh, has convicted the Dera Sacha Sauda chief for rape despite the open backing he has received from the BJP that wooed him for his support in the last Haryana Assembly elections.

Under the new law, Singh now faces life imprisonment for rape. It is a cognisable offence. The quantum of the punishment will be announced on Monday. Singh is being taken to jail after a medical examination.

Two women had filed cases against him, with one sadhvi giving details of how she was taken to his room, automatic doors closed behind her as soon as she entered, Singh was sitting watching a pornographic film with a revolver beside him, he raped here then and continued to do so for three years until she finally filed a case. She alleged then that at least 40 women had been raped by him in his Dera.

The two women gave evidence against him in court. Immediate reports suggest that after the long years of fear and terror, the two broke down when they heard that Singh had been convicted, and arrested.

Singh arrived at the court at Panchkula this afternoon in a cavalcade of 200 plus cars. He had lakhs of supporters lining the street, threatening violence, even as the state was left with little choice but to beef up security, place the Army on standby and bring in para military forces to ensure peace after an expected adverse ruling.

Singh, despite the political patronage he has received over the years, has always remain mired in controversy. A man was killed shortly after the rape case was filed against him 2002 with rumours that he was seen by Singh to be behind an anonymous letter that was sent to the then Prime Minister Atal Bihar Vajpayee about the rape, and sexual assaults by Singh in his Dera.

Singh was also accused of castrating at least 400 followers at his ashram. He also faced charges over the murder of a journalist, and stood trial. More recently he had to apologise when he angered Sikhs by impersonating guru Gobind Singh in 2007. He was attacked by a mob and had to back off from this altogether.