NEW DELHI,25.08.17-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.The sentence will be pronounced by the court on Monday.

    Meanwhile, enraged by the rape conviction of self-styled godman, thousands of his followers went on the rampage, hurling stones and vandalising media vehicles. At least 17 people were killed and more than 100 injured in the violence that left a trail of destruction and vandalism.

    Ram Rahim is the chief of the Dera Sacha Sauda, a quasi- religious group, and was accused in 2002 of sexually exploiting two female followers. He was whisked away after the conviction and the sentencing will take place on Monday. He faces imprisonment of seven years to life imprisonment.

    Curfew was imposed in Panchkuala and Sirsa, where the group's headquarters is located. Internet services were also suspended.

    A huge posse of Haryana police contingent, paramilitary forces and RAF barricaded all roads leading to the sprawling headquarters of Ram Rahim, who besides running the cult is into making and acting in movies, as well as running a range of businesses.

    Security was also beefed up in parts of northern India, including New Delhi and Lucknow.

    Although prohibitory orders were in place in Panchkula, it had little effect on the protesters, who also set fire to Malout and Balluanna railway stations in Punjab, according to the Northern Railways. Many motorcycles, cars and buildings, including an Income Tax building in Mansa in Punjab, were set on fire.

    Six columns of Army, comprising a total of 500 to 600 soldiers were deployed in Panchkula, a suburb of Chandigarh.

    The situation was worsening in parts of Punjab, mainly in Malwa region, the stronghold of Dera Sacha Sauda.

    At least three OB vans of private television channels were damaged. Two vans were overturned by a mob.

    A chronology of the case:

    April 2002: Anonymous letter written to Punjab and Haryana High Court chief justice complaining about the sexual exploitation of woman followers at Dera Sacha Sauda in Sirsa.

    May 2002: High court directs Sirsa district and sessions judge to probe the allegations in the letter.

    September 2002: High court hands matter to CBI after district court indicates possibility of sexual exploitation.

    December 2002: CBI registers a case of rape and criminal intimidation against Gurmeet Ram Rahim, head of the Sirsa headquartered Dera Sacha Sauda.

    July 2007: CBI files chargesheet against the Dera head in an Ambala court. The chargesheet refers to the sexual exploitation of two 'sadhvis' (women followers) between 1999 and 2001.

    September 2008: The special CBI court frames charges against Gurmeet under sections 376 (rape) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC.

    Between 2009 and 2010: Two complainants record their statements before the court.

    April 2011: The special CBI court shifts from Ambala to Panchkula. The case against the Dera chief also transferred to Panchkula CBI court.

    July 2017: Special CBI court orders daily hearing

    August 17, 2017: Arguments of prosecution and defence concludes. Special CBI Judge Jagdeep Singh fixes August 25 as date for pronouncement of verdict. Gurmeet asked to appear in person before the court the same day.

    August 25, 2017: The special CBI court convicts Gurmeet.

    Quantum of sentencing to be announced on August 28.