A CBI court in Panchkula, Haryana on Friday held self-proclaimed 'Messenger of God' and Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh held guilty of raping a ‘sadhavi’.
The conviction comes 15 years after the woman, a dera sadhavi, spoke out about Gurmeet raping her repeatedly.
She had written an anonymous letter to then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee narrating her ordeal.
Friday's verdict was pronounced amidst heightened security as scores of Dera followers had gathered in Panchkula. The Army had also been called.
The 50-year-old Gurmeet has now been taken into judicial custody.
The sentence for the offence will be pronounced on Monday.
In 2002, the woman, in the anonymous letter to the then PM, had accused the Dera chief of raping several others like her inside the sprawling campus in Sirsa, Haryana.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court had taken suo motu cognisance of the letter and directed a CBI inquiry into the allegations.
While two sadhavis accused Gurmeet Ram Rahim of raping them, the Dera chief had denied the charges as ‘baseless’, saying he was not capable of establishing sexual relations.
While he has been pronounced guilty of rape, he stands accused of murdering Dera follower Ranjit Singh, who he and his followers suspected to be behind the anonymous letter written by the sadhavi.
They believed that the letter was written by Ranjit Singh's sister. He was murdered two months after the letter was written.
Another journalist, who highlighted the alleged wrongdoings at the Dera, was also shot at. He later succumbed to the injury.