Soldiers stood guard on a highway in Panchkula on Monday as Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was sentenced. Photo: Reuters

Controversial “godman” Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was sentenced on Monday to 20 years in prison after being found guilty by a special Central Bureau of Investigation court in Panchkula, Haryana, of raping two “sadhvis” (female followers) 14 years ago, according to media reports.

The Dera Sacha Sauda leader wept while he was sentenced by Judge Jagdeep Singh at a special court set up in a district jail in Rohtak in Haryana, NDTV reported.

The 50-year-old was convicted under IPC section 376 (rape), Section 506 (criminal intimidation) and Section 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) on Friday.

Defence lawyer S K Garg Narwana reportedly said that the CBI Judge Singh pronounced two sentences of 10 years rigorous imprisonment in each of the two cases that date back to 2002.

During the hearing of arguments before the sentencing, the prosecution asked for the maximum punishment, but the defense argued that Ram Rahim deserved leniency, claiming he had worked for the welfare of the people.

After Ram Rahim’s conviction on Friday, clashes killed 32 people and more than 200 were injured.