Thane: A special court has awarded 10 years of rigorous imprisonment to a 35-year-old van driver for raping two girls, whom he used to drop at a local school.

Special POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act) court judge SP Gondhalekar convicted Tulshiram Manere and awarded the sentence to him on Friday.

The court also imposed a fine of Rs 28,000 on the convict.

According to the prosecution, the convict, who used to drive a van to ferry schoolchildren, had raped the two girls, both aged around eight then, on multiple occasions between June and December 2016.

Additional public prosecutor Ujjwala Moholkar said Manere used to ferry the school students in his van daily.

"On Saturdays, the school timing of these two girls used to be different. Taking advantage of the situation, he would take the victims to an isolated place and molest and rape them. This happened on multiple occasions between June and December 2016," she said.

He had applied sun films on the windows of his vehicle in order to hide his acts, she told the court.

He also threatened the girls with dire consequences if they revealed information about his acts to anyone.

"As the girls were under pressure, they did not talk about it to anyone. However, due to the sexual harassment, they stopped attending school on Saturdays. When the teachers once asked them the reason behind their not attending school on Saturdays, they broke down and narrated their ordeal to her," Moholkar said.

The teacher took the victims to Nizampura Police Station and lodged a complaint against Manere, following which he was arrested.

The court held him guilty under IPC sections 376 (rape), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 506 (criminal intimidation) and under provisions of the POCSO Act.