The symbol used on a particular kavadi during the Thaipusam celebration in George Town on Thursday was identical to the Nazi symbol and not the sacred and auspicious Hindu swastika, said Northeast District police chief ACP Mior Faridalathrash Wahid.
He said the use of the Nazi symbol is condemned by the world community and that it was typical of gangs to use the Nazi symbol as their reference to aggression, violence and hatred.
"In our heterogeneous society, we cannot tolerate nor condone the use of the Nazi symbol. Thaipusam draws visitors from all over the world and we should not portray this condemned symbol as part of our culture," he said in a statement today.
He said the role of the police during Thaipusam was to maintain law and order and to ensure that devotees and visitors alike were ensured of their safety and well-being.
"This is our utmost priority and we cannot allow a group of youths to put fear in devotees and visitors," he added.
Mior Faridalathrash said police arrested a group of 20 youths during the Thaipusam celebration in George Town for various criminal offences, including robbery and drug use.
"Since the arrests, some of them including three students were released on police bail," he said.
He issued the statement in response to Penang PKR Youth vice-head A Kumaresan who said that the wing regretted the actions of the police in arresting the 20 individuals in relation to the kavadi bearing the Nazi symbol.
Kumaresan had said that the police should have first referred the matter to the Hindu authorities before taking such action.