A microscopic theory of desorption of neutral atoms from the surface of crystalline GaP is presented. Derived results suggest that bonds are broken at the surface due to high excitonic density, so that a pair of excited holes can get localised on the same bond because such an excited state has much lower energy than that of a free exciton state. Any bond with a pair of holes, instead of covalent electrons, will be broken. Strong exciton-lattice interaction is assumed. It is argued that the mechanism of atomic desorption from surfaces is analogous to that of polymer ablation; and the desorption of neutral atoms increases linearly to super linearly with the increase in laser fluence. This agrees well with experiments.