Kathmandu, April 19 The government has launched ‘Operation Mandala’ to prevent and combat transnational crimes on the basis of information received from the Interpol. Homnath Thapaliya, chief of customs office at Tribhuvan International Airport, and Senior Superintendent of Police Prem Chanda, who is also the acting in-charge of TIA police, jointly inaugurated the programme. Interpol officials were also present at the programme. With the launch of ‘Operation Mandala’, Nepal Police in association with Interpol and the Department of Immigration will make combined efforts in the fight against organised crimes, human trafficking and terrorism. According to Nepal Police, the programme was initiated acting on information that transnational criminal networks were using lost and stolen passports of citizens belonging to South Asian and Southeast Asian countries to serve their purposes. As per ‘Operation Mandela’, TIA immigration and police will maintain and verify the persons arriving at and departing from TIA. Officials have been authorised to detain any suspect for further investigation. The programme will be conducted at the TIA and customs office in Belahiya of Rupandehi until April 26 as a pilot project before the nationwide coverage, officials said. Recently, police and immigration authorities had exposed how human traffickers were trying to make Nepal their transit point for sending Bangladeshis abroad. In February, the DoI had sent home 15 Bangladeshi nationals, who were preparing to fly to various foreign countries via TIA. The government had expelled 281 foreign nationals in 2017 for violating immigration laws, overstaying, living in Nepal without visa and working without permit, according to a figure of the DoI. In 2016, as many as 339 foreigners were deported. Trafficking of Nepali women and girls to several countries, including Macau, UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Portugal, Dubai, Qatar, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and India via  TIA  are also reported in addition to drug smuggling by making the international airport a transit to Europe and Southeast Asian countries. In a shocking revelation, a study conducted by International Relations and Labour Committee of the Parliament in 2017 had found that around 60 per cent of Nepali workers employed as housemaids in the Gulf took off from the TIA on tourist visa. Staff working at immigration office of the TIA, security personnel, employees of airlines operators and middlemen collude to facilitate human trafficking through TIA, it reported.