Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh: Indian guru whose rape conviction sparked riots jailed for 10 years

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A controversial Indian guru whose conviction for rape sparked riots has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The self-styled holy man, who also performs in rock concerts and acts in films, was found guilty earlier this week of assaulting two female followers.

Violence then broke out in Panchkula in India’s northern Haryana state and 38 people died amid the unrest.

Ahead of his sentencing today, further disorder was reported by Indian media as authorities were put on high alert.

Vehicles were set on fire during street riots after Singh’s conviction (EPA)

A curfew has been imposed in certain regions and police say they have been given “shoot on sight” orders in case of trouble.

Singh, 50, leads the quasi-religious Dera Sacha Sauda sect, which claims to have more than 50 million followers around the world and campaigns for vegetarianism and against drug addiction.

His conviction comes after 15 years of proceedings against the self-styled “guru of bling”, who arrived at court on Friday in a convoy of 100 vehicles.

Spiritual leaders commonly have large followings, and some even have their own small armed militias, but Singh is particularly powerful.

Ahead of his conviction, around 100,000 supporters camped out in parks and plazas, prompting police to erect heavy metal barricades in an effort to stall the unrest.

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