LAHORE - The police in Punjab have launched a large-scale crackdown to hunt down the bootleggers involved in selling toxic moonshine ahead of Christmas.

The move comes as Christian community is preparing to celebrate the holy event. A police official said the crackdown was launched to stop the use of poisonous liquor that claimed dozens of lives in recent year.  A police spokeswoman on Friday said the police are directed to launch massive crackdown against sellers of poisonous liquor on the event of Christmas. As part of the crackdown, the Toba Tek Singh police Friday arrested five persons who were dealers of poisonous liquor in the district. The suspects were identified as Muhammad Abid Faisal, Muhammad Manzur, Muhammad Jumma Khan and Muhammad Usman.

The police also registered four separate FIRs against them. The police also seized 1015 bottles of alcohol in which 700 bottles were of Ponda alcohol and 315 bottles were of methylated alcohol.

Two years ago, more than 35 people had died after consuming poisoning liquor in the same Toba Tek Singh district. Another 26 affected people were sent to hospitals for treatment.

Following the deaths, the police had arrested three suspects who supplied aftershave lotion to Sowan Masih, a rickshaw driver, who subsequently made liquor and supplied it to a Christmas party though his friend Iqbal Masih.