A day after Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was sentenced to 20 years jail for rape and criminal intimidation, as many as 18 girls were rescued from the ashram of the Dera Sacha Sauda on Tuesday.

Sirsa Civil Hospital CMO Govind Gupta said 18 girls have been rescued so far and their medical examination is underway.

“Eighteen girls have been rescued from Dera ashram, their medical examination underway,” Govind Gupta said.

Scores of Dera ashrams in areas including Kurukshetra, Ambala and Kaithal, have been sealed across the country after Gurmeet Ram Rahim was found guilty of raping two of his female disciples.

The Dera chief was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in each of the two cases of rape.

Both the sentences will run consecutively, the sect chief’s counsel SK Garg Narwana said after the special CBI judge pronounced the sentence in the District Jail in Sunaria, which was brought under extraordinary security following Friday’s violence.

The self-styled godman was in tears and pleaded for mercy as the judge sentenced him to 10 years jail in each of the two counts of rape and criminal intimidation.

The conviction of the Dera chief in the CBI court in Panchkula on Friday had sparked off large-scale violence by his followers which left 38 people dead and 264 others injured.

The hearing to decide the quantum of sentence started at 2.30 p.m. on Monday and the judge gave 10 minutes each to the defence and prosecution sides to make their submission, court sources said.

While Ram Rahim’s counsel argued for leniency and minimum punishment saying that he was a social worker and had health issues, the CBI counsel sought maximum punishment given his conduct. The prosecution wanted the case to be treated as “rarest of the rare”.

The sect chief’s counsel said that the verdict will be challenged in a high court.

(With IANS inputs)