Top Maoist Gundeti Shankar alias Sheshanna would perhaps be alive had there been enough water in the forests of Adilabad to quench the thirst of his band of outlaws.

The Adilabad district committee secretary (DCS) and member of the North Telangana Special Zone Committee of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) had retreated to the safety of Dandakaranya forests in Chhattisgarh just a month ago to die of snake bite there.

The extremist leader had gone back to the safe haven to avoid problems in the harsh summer when all drinking water sources go dry. “In fact, he had always returned to the safe haven in Chhattisgarh at the start of summer since he was elevated as DCS in 2007-08,” a police officer involved in anti-naxal operations here told The Hindu.

“His task as DCS was rendered more difficult since Maoists had lost the support of people in villages. No food, no water and no shelter - force the extremists to be constantly on the move which is detrimental to their existence,” the police officer added.

For the last four year, the DCS comes to Adilabad in June heading a band of about 25 extremists from the Dandakaranya area.

He retreats at the start of summer owing to water problem and lack of good foliage cover in jungles in the dry season.

“Some 26 of us had come here about 8 months back. Sheshanna went back to Dandakaranya with 15 a few weeks ago,” said Gundarapu Kistakka alias Lalitha, Indervelli dalam commander, and a comrade in arms of Sheshanna, who surrendered herself on March 22..

“Yes, the Maoist leader had gone back taking with him his personal security and the Indervelli dalam. Only some nine members of the Mangi team are active here now,” the police officer concurred.

The failure to recruit new cadres has also made Maoist leadership go stringent in permitting surrenders. “Though I was down with ill health, I was not given permission to surrender for about one year,” Kistakka revealed.